BILLINGS — Roundup is moving on to the semifinals after sprinting past Eureka in the opening round of the State B girls basketball tournament inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark. The Panthers will see Columbus for the fourth time this season after the Cougars held off Fairfield.
Roundup 45, Eureka 22
Roundup is moving on to the semifinals after sprinting past Eureka on Thursday in the opening round of the State B girls basketball tournament inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, 45-22.
The Panthers led by eight at halftime, 19-11, but they closed the third quarter on a 15-2 run to grab a commanding 39-20 lead with eight minutes to play. Roundup led by as many as 24 in the fourth quarter.
"The girls have shown they can do that consistently throughout the year. They're a very good defensive team. Maybe they're a great defensive team. We've defended some of the best teams in the state quite well. We're consistently mid- to low-30s. We don't care if we're in the 30s, either, offensively, because I think they trust in their defense a lot," Roundup head coach Dan Eiselein said. "I think the last tournament, and also our conference and non-conference schedule, have really set us up for this. We have two (District) 4B teams in the state tournament. Obviously our league is pretty good. That's what prepares you, is good competition. Last week put us through the fire pretty good and we stood up to it."
Roundup had an advantage on the glass on Thursday morning, out-rebounding Eureka 33-25. The Panthers also held Eureka to 9-of-40 shooting, including 2 for 16 from beyond the arc.
"We don't have a very big team. We don't look good walking through the airport, so to speak. But I think fundamentally we're pretty good boxing out in man and zone. It's an expectation and a habit that's carrying out very well," Eiselein said.
Meghan Eiselein led Roundup with 14 points and nine rebounds. Tia Stahl was the only other Panther in double figures with 11 points, but all seven rotation players for Roundup scored. The Panthers hit 8 of 19 shots from downtown in the victory.
"Players have to be stars within their roles," Dan Eiselein said of the contributions from Kennah Jensen, Cate Cota and Bella Klein. "Any given game one of them can be the leading scorer, one of them has the ability to go off a little bit, depending on how the defense is. We need that consistent contribution from those three, but everybody has a role and a value to our team. We can't function without them, because they're fundamentally sound. They don't make many mistakes."
Roundup will face Columbus in Friday night's semifinals.
Columbus 45, Fairfield 37
It's going to be an all-District 4B semifinal.
Columbus pulled away from Fairfield late in the fourth quarter for a 45-37 win on Thursday in the opening round of the State B girls basketball tournament inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark in Billings to set up another meeting with Roundup.
With Columbus leading by two, 37-35, with less than three minutes to play, Sawyer Wiggs converted a three-point play to push the Cougars' lead to five and give them enough separation to hold off Fairfield's comeback attempt down the stretch.
"(Wiggs) would be the first to tell you that she was struggling a little bit up to that point," Columbus head coach Jeromey Burke said. "We've kind of relied on her scoring. When she scores for us it usually either puts a game away or puts a game out of reach for us, so for her to get that one and step up and make the free throw was huge for us."
It was a grind for both sides to score, although Columbus shot over 50% from the field. Fairfield was just 14 of 41. Possessions stalled out frequently in the second half, as both Fairfield and Columbus put the clamps down and held the opponent to one shot offensively.
"It was brutal. Their defense is something. They fly around. They know what they want to give up and they don't give up what they don't want to give up," said Burke. "They have a program that knows how to win games and knows how to come here and compete. I knew we weren't going to come in here and do anything but battle and we did and found a way."
Columbus had a decisive advantage from the free throw line, attempting 27 foul shots compared to Fairfield's seven. The Cougars, though, made just 14 of those attempts.
"We've got to do better if we want to win any more games this weekend. That's kind of the way it goes," Burke said. "It does mean we were being aggressive, which against their defense you've got to have some girls that are brave enough to go in their and fight through some physical play. It means we did a good job doing that, but it doesn't do you much good if you don't step up to the line and make them. We've got to do better (Friday) and they know it."
Columbus and Roundup will play for a fourth time this season on Friday night. Roundup won the first meeting between the two, but Columbus won the latter pair, including the District 4B championship game.
"Like I told the girls, we don't have to go home and watch much film tonight, because we've played these guys about 20 times over the couple years," Burke said. "We know what they want to do. They know what we want to do and vice versa. I'm happy for 4B to have such a good showing, too. It shows that we played some good basketball this year."