BILLINGS – For the second straight year, the Eastern A girls title will come down to Hardin and Havre.
Hardin beat Billings Central in the first Eastern A semifinal Friday night, while Havre shut down Laurel in the nightcap at Rimrock Auto Arena.
HARDIN 44, Billings Central 33
Marie Five scored 18 points, 14 in the first half, as Hardin won the rubber match with Billings Central 44-33.
It was a two-point game at 13-11 in the second quarter, when Hardin went on a 10-0 run to open the game up. Central climbed within five on multiple occasions in the third, but Hardin pushed the lead back to 35-23 by the end of the quarter.
Central struggled with the Bulldogs pressure, committing 21 turnovers. They also struggled from the outside, not making a single three-pointer (0-7).
The two teams split two tight regular season meetings in the same building – Hardin beat Central 66-64 in double overtime on Jan. 6, while Central won 49-47 on Feb. 3.
HAVRE 56, Laurel 41
Havre turned a three-point halftime lead into a blowout win in Friday’s late semifinal, 56-41 over Laurel to move to 20-0 on the season.
The Locomotives stayed right with the No. 1-ranked Class A team for 16 minutes. Laurel made four three pointers in the opening half, the fourth from Kaitlyn Dawes which tied the game at 16 late in the second quarter.
Kadia Miller hit a three right before the halftime buzzer to give Havre a 19-16 lead at the break, and the Blue Ponies never looked back. Havre won the third 17-9 and then scored the first 11 points of the fourth.
Laurel had troble with Havre’s pressure most of the game. Kaylee Nystrom recorded six steals, many while guarding Laurel’s speedy point guard Aspen Cotter. Nystrom added 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Kyndall Keller led Havre with 15 points, 12 in the second half. Kaitlyn Dawes led Laurel with nine.
Hardin and Havre will play for the title at 8:00 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs beat the Blue Ponies 50-39 in the 2017 Eastern A championship.
Billings Central and Laurel will play loser-out games at 10:30 a.m. Central will face Glendive at Rimrock Auto Arena, while Laurel will play Belgrade at Rocky Mountain College.