BILLINGS – Defense is king – or queen in this case.
The Hardin girls forced 30 Belgrade turnovers Thursday on their way to a 41-22 win in an Eastern A basketball quarterfinal at Rimrock Auto Arena.
The Bulldogs recorded a tournament-high 22 steals in the game – seven from Aiyanna Ereaux and six from Sharmayne Hardy – to overcome a poor shooting game. Hardin made just 16 of 52 field goals, including two of 20 from 3-point range.
It didn’t matter, because the Bulldogs took 21 more shots than Belgrade. The Panthers finished at 10 of 31 from the field, and did not make a 3 (0-8).
Hardin’s Karissa DuShane was the only player in double digits with 10 points. Ereaux added seven points and six rebounds to her seven steals, while Hardy chipped in four points, four rebounds, and a game-high five assists.
The Bulldogs advance to a Friday semifinal against Billings Central at 6:30 p.m. Belgrade will play a loser-out contest at 1:30 p.m. Friday against the winner between Miles City and Livingston.
LAUREL 35, Lewistown 28
Aspen Cotter scored scored six straight points late in the fourth quarter to propel Laurel past Lewistown, 35-28, in the last quarterfinal of the day.
Both teams struggled offensively. The Locomotives shot just 22.7 percent for the game (10 of 44 field goals) while Lewistown was at 23.7 percent (9-38).
Laurel grabbed the lead late in the second quarter with a 7-0 run that put the the Locomotives up 20-15 at halftime. The Locos, though, did not make a field goal in the third quarter, allowing Lewistown to climb within 24-23 heading into the final frame.
The Eagles took the lead on an Anna Zimmer 3-pointer with 6:46 to play. Zimmer finished with 12 points. Hanna Hayes led the team with 13.
A steal and coast-to-coast layup by Cotter gave Laurel the lead back for good with under 3:00 to play. She led the team with 10 points and four steals.
Laurel will play Havre in a semifinal Friday at 8 p.m. Lewistown falls to a loser-out contest Friday at noon against the winner between Glendive and Sidney.