BILLINGS -- Billings Senior, Great Falls CMR and Bozeman are joining Billings West in the semifinals at the Eastern AA girls basketball divisional tournament at Alterowitz Gym on the campus of MSU Billings. Senior won a slugfest over Great Falls High, while CMR jumped all over Belgrade in opening-round action. Bozeman won a back-and-forth battle with Billings Skyview in the nightcap.
Billings Senior 28, Great Falls High 20
The Billings Senior girls basketball team had to grind out a victory against Great Falls High in the opening round of the Eastern AA divisional tournament on Thursday inside Alterowitz Gym on the campus of MSU Billings.
Finding a bucket was a struggle for both teams early. Senior led just 6-4 after the first quarter and 11-9 at halftime. Senior's defense was suffocating in the first half, holding Great Falls High to just 21.4 percent shooting.
The Bison's shooting woes continued in the second half, as they made just 5 of 20 shots in the final two quarters. Senior outscored Great Falls High 8-2 in the third quarter to take a 19-11 lead into the final quarter.
Great Falls High eventually trimmed the deficit to 24-20 with less than two minutes to play, but the Bison just couldn't buy a bucket when they needed it most. Free throws iced the game for the Broncs, who will play in Friday's semifinals against Billings West.
Brenna Linse had 16 points to lead Senior. Jorgie Hawthorne's six points led Great Falls High. The Bison fall to loser-out action and will play on Saturday morning.
Great Falls CMR 57, Belgrade 36
Great Falls CMR punched its ticket to Friday's semifinal round in emphatic fashion, blowing out Belgrade, 57-36, in the opening round of the Eastern AA divisional tournament in Billings.
CMR led just 11-7 after the first quarter, but the Rustlers opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run and outscored Belgrade 15-4 in the period to grab a commanding 15-point halftime lead, 26-11.
Belgrade's offense came alive in the third quarter, as the Panthers were able to pour in 14 points, nine of which came from Gabby Weber, but CMR was able to maintain its distance and hold a 14-point lead going into the final quarter.
The Rustlers opened the lead up in the fourth quarter and will face off against the Bozeman/Billings Skyview winner in Friday's semifinals. Allie Olsen had 12 points to lead CMR, while Weber had a game-high 18 for Belgrade.
Belgrade falls to loser-out action and will play again on Friday afternoon.
Bozeman 42, Billings Skyview 35
Bozeman won a back-and-forth game with Billings Skyview, 42-35, to punch the final ticket to the semifinals on Thursday night.
Skyview jumped ahead 12-9 after the first quarter and led for most of the second quarter, but Bozeman closed the half with a 6-0 spurt to grab a 23-18 lead at the break. The Hawks carried that momentum into the third quarter and built an 11-point lead, 30-19, early in the frame.
But back came the Falcons. Skyview closed the quarter on an 11-4 run to trail 34-30. Both offenses struggled to put the ball in the hole in the fourth quarter, as the Hawks held a two-point lead with less than three minutes to play. Bozeman hit 6 of 8 free throws in the final minutes to pull away.
Gabby Klein (14 points) and Addi Ekstrom (11) paced Bozeman in scoring. Brooke Berry had 11 points for Billings Skyview.
Bozeman will play Great Falls CMR in Friday's semifinals at 8 p.m. Billings Skyview will play Belgrade on Friday at 2 p.m. in loser-out action.