BOZEMAN — Though close at times, it was a complete Eastern A sweep in the first round of the State A girls basketball tournament at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse on Thursday. All four matchups started close before Hardin, Laurel, and Havre were able to pull away to double-digit wins, with Laurel being the lone Eastern A team to win by a single-digit margin.
Hardin 70, Dillon 57
In a chippy contest to open the girls State A bracket, the Hardin Bulldogs were able to pull away from the Dillon Beavers down the stretch to pick up the win, 70-57.
The Bulldogs had three players tip double-digit points Thursday with Dierra Takes Enemy leading the way with 15 points, Aiyanna Big Man tallied 11, and Carlei Plainfeather added 10 to Hardin's total.
Despite game-high 18-point efforts from Dillon's Kenleigh Graham and Halle Fitzgerald, the Beavers will fall into the consolation bracket for Friday.
Laurel 47, Frenchtown 44
In a game of runs, the Laurel Locomotives were able to escape in the final minute to win 47-44.
After leading much of the game, the Frenchtown Broncs roared back midway in the fourth quarter to take a seven-point lead with just under three minutes to play. But the Locomotives were able to find their rhythm once again in the waning moments and recapture the lead on a short jumper from Emma Timm.
Kaitlyn Dantic and Alyse Aby led the scoring efforts for the Locomotives with 13 points each, as Laurel looks to keep rolling in the semifinals Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Hardin.
Despite a game-high 14 points from the Broncs' Madison Kaufman, they will head to the consolation bracket and face Dillon on Friday at 9 a.m.
Billings Central 71, Hamilton 49
In a game that started about as even as any of the three matchups to that point, the Billings Central Rams were able to run away with their first-round matchup over the Hamilton Broncs, 71-49
Both teams started out in a slugfest trading short runs of scoring, the Rams were able to pull away slightly near the end of the first half and capitalized on their momentum late in the contest, outscoring the Broncs 37-21 in the second half.
Central's Coral Old Bull posted a game-high 18 points, while the team logged 33 points off the bench and outrebounded Hamiton 42-19. Hamilton's Layne Kearns posted a team-high 17 points, while Taryn Searle added 13 to the Broncs' total.
The victory sets up a another rivalry matchup between the Rams and the Havre Blue Ponies on Friday at 5 p.m. The Broncs will head to the consolation bracket and face the Browning Lady Indians on Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Havre 75, Browning 53
After a close first half, the two-time defending champion Havre Blue Ponies pulled away in the third quarter to beat the Browning Lady Indians, 73-53.
Browning's effort was present, as the game was tied at the half 27-27, but Havre's Yelena Miller and Amaya Jarvis tallied 52 points combined points to lead the Blue Ponies to victory.
Mecca Bullchild led the way for the Lady Indians in terms of scoring with a team-high 16 points.
Havre now moves on to play Central tomorrow on Friday. Browning moves to the consolation bracket and plays Hamilton.