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Eastern A girls: Miles City holds on, Havre rallies to set up title clash

Miles City-Billings Central girls.jpg
Posted at 8:40 PM, Feb 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-24 01:00:04-05

BILLINGS — Miles City and Havre took different routes to the Eastern A girls divisional championship game Friday at First Interstate Arena.

The Cowgirls built a big lead then held on for dear life in a 56-52 semifinal win over Billings Central. Havre, on the other hand, never led until a fourth-quarter rally produced a 64-58 win over Lockwood in the other semi.

No matter how they got there, it will be Blue Ponies versus the Cowgirls for the divisional crown Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Miles City 56, Billings Central 52

As their double-digit lead evaporated, Miles City's girls needed to find a way to survive in the clutch. They did it, and now the Cowgirls will play for a divisional championship after a 56-52 semifinal victory over Billings Central.

The win sends Cowgirls into Saturday's title game, and hands them a berth to the state tourney.

Their 14-point first-half lead was dwindled down to two with under a minute left, but the Cowgirls stayed afloat from the foul line — Jillian Kanduch and Heidi Phalen combined to make four free throws in the last 25 seconds — and as the Rams were called for an illegal screen with under 10 ticks remaining on a potential tying possession.

Kanduch scored 23 points and hit 9 of 10 from the foul line to lead Miles City back to state after missing last season. Phalen and Camdyn Waterman each added 10 points for the Cowgirls.

Central cut Miles City's lead to two on more than one occassion, including when Lyssa Peterson went coast-to-coast to pull the Rams within 54-52 with 19 seconds left. But they were unable to score again.

Kam Reinker had 16 points and six rebounds for Central, which will play in loser-out action Saturday. Peterson finished with 11 points and Coral Old Bull had nine. Ryen Hadley had eight points and five rebounds.

Eastern A girls: Miles City holds on, Havre rallies to set up title clash

Havre 64, Lockwood 58

Lockwood, in its fifth year of existence, seemed on the verge of advancing to its first girls championship game of any kind while holding a 10-point lead in the second half.

But coach Dustin Kraske and Havre don't blink at this time of year, and they rallied for a 64-58 semifinal win despite shooting just 17% in the opening two quarters.

Ariana Gary was a major catalyst, scoring 23 of her game-high 30 points in the second half. Gary's three-point play underneath with 1:56 remaining gave the Blue Ponies their first lead at 52-50. A corner 3 by Sierra Parker and a steal and layup by Amaya Jarvis were the final salvos in Havre's comeback.

Gary made 9 of 14 shots from the floor and 11 of 13 from the foul line while taking over the second half. Jarvis, the hero in Havre's first-round thriller over Hardin on Thursday, struggled from the floor but made key plays at key times and ended with 11 points.

Before fouling out, Tailey Harris had 20 points for Lockwood, which will play in loser-out action Saturday. Dani Jordan and Lawren DeCrane each had 11 for the Lions. Lockwood lost despite shooting 62% from the floor; its 23 turnovers and a 6-for-20 showing from the foul line proved too difficult for the Lions to overcome.

Friday Loser-out scores

Laurel 63, Sidney 44

Hardin 62, Lewistown 48