High School SportsHigh School Girls Basketball


State A girls: Havre, Billings Central to clash again; Miles City, Bigfork also in semis

Alli Glasscock
Billings Central girls
Bigfork Frame 5.jpg
Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 14:56:22-05

BUTTE — What would a Class A girls state tournament be without a matchup between perennial contenders Havre and Billings Central? Different, that's for sure.

The Blue Ponies and Rams made their meeting a reality — again — by winning first-round games at this year's tourney at the Civic Center on Friday. Central dug deep to beat Frenchtown 49-48 in overtime while Havre was methodical in its 54-44 win over Browning.

Central and Havre will clash at the state tournament for the fifth straight season. Havre has won the past three meetings, including title-game wins in 2021 and 2022. This time it will be for a berth in the championship.

Havre is chasing a four-peat and looking to become the first girls basketball team since Fairfield (2011-14) to pull off that feat. Central is chasing its first title since sharing it with Hardin in the COVID-shortened year of 2020, and its first outright crown since 2012.

Also into the semis is Miles City, which took a big lead en route to a 50-40 victory over Dillon in Round 1. The Beavers put pressure on the Cowgirls with a late first-half run but the Miles City kept their composure — and the lead — for a semifinal berth.

Miles City gets a crack at powerful Bigfork in Saturday's semifinals. The Valkyries, led by the sister tandem of Braeden and Paeten Gunlock, poured it on early against Lockwood as they chase the unique feat of winning consecutive titles at different classifications.

Billings Central 49, Frenchtown 48, OT

Central got a huge lift from Ryen Hadley, whose 22 points and 8-for-10 showing from the foul line were critical. Hadley's corner 3 with 2:01 left in overtime cut into a five-point deficit, and her free throw with 1:04 remaining gave Central its first lead of the game, 47-46.

The game was decided at the foul line. After Ryan Lucier tied it 47-47 at the stripe for Frenchtown with 43.5 ticks left, Coral Old Bull answered with two more free throws for the Rams, who then led 49-47 with :11.7 to play.

The Broncs' Maya Skinner then hit 1 of 2 from the stripe with :8.4 left; Frenchtown's Mason Quinn got the rebound, but a couple attempts at a winning shot went for naught.

Central shot just 22.8% from the floor but hit 18 of 27 free throws to keep pace on the scoreboard and negate Quinn's double double of 14 points and 13 rebounds and Madi Kaufman's 25-point effort for Frenchtown. The Broncs shot 12 for 19 from the line — Kaufman made 11 of those — but went the final 5:28 of the fourth quarter without a field goal.

The Broncs turned the ball over 25 times while Central coughed it up 21 times.

State A girls: Havre, Billings Central to write another rivalry chapter in semis

Havre 54, Browning 44

In its quest for a fourth straight state title, Havre started on the right foot by taking a 15-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 24-9. That lead eventually ballooned to 21 points in the second quarter and the Blue Ponies were in command.

It was a balanced effort: Ariana Gary led Havre with 13 points and eight rebounds. Sierra Parker had 10 points and six rebounds and Amaya Jarvis contributed 10 points and six boards. Gary had 12 of her points in the first half.

Tierra Parker added eight points and Ela Harbor had seven as the Blue Ponies won their fourth straight postseason game after winning the Eastern A divisional two weeks ago.

Browning matched the Blue Ponies stride for stride after halftime and got as close as nine points, but their first-quarter hole the Indians found themselves in was too great. Teslin Trombley and Josey Michael each had eight points for Browning, while Natalee St. Goddard pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

Miles City 50, Dillon 40

When Alli Glasscock grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a put-back with 1:38 left in the first half, Miles City took a 26-10 lead. That advantage led to a first-round win despite Dillon's efforts to climb back.

The Beavers went on a quick 10-0 run to close the first half to pull within six points at intermission. But Miles City kept its wits and crawled back ahead by nine points in the later stages of the third quarter on a Jillian Kanduch shot.

A three-point play by Kenleigh Graham got the Beavers within 35-29, but they got no closer than six the rest of the way. Glasscock's basket while posting up gave Miles City a 43-33 advantage at the 5:47 mark of the fourth and that cushion was more than enough.

For a program that had for years been a perennial Class A contender, Miles City is back in the semifinals for the first time since 2009.

As Dillon did its best to neutralize Kanduch, Glasscock finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. Kanduch finished with 11 points but was limited to three field goals. Graham had 17 points and eight rebounds for Dillon before fouling out. Sydney Peterson added 10 points for the Beavers.

State A girls: Miles City, Bigfork girls roll into semifinal matchup

Bigfork 62, Lockwood 46

Fast and furious Bigfork, last year's Class B champion, continued to look the part of a bona fide Class A title contender Friday in dispatching Lockwood, which was making its first ever state appearance for girls basketball.

Paeten Gunlock finished with 19 points and sister Braeden Gunlock had 13 points and 15 rebounds as the Valkyries kept intact their push toward another championship.

A Paeten Gunlock 3 at the midpoint of the second quarter gave Bigfork a 31-12 lead. Keni Wade later added a 3-point for a 38-15 advantage and Ava Davey's layup made the score 40-15 just before halftime.

The Valkyries shot 55.2% in the first half, with Paeten Gunlock hitting 5 of 6 shots including both her 3-point tries.

Lockwood continued to fight and outscored the Vals 29-22 after halftime, but the deficit was far too great. Tailey Harris had 13 points and Dani Jordan had 13 for the Lions.