BUTTE – Butte Central’s Khloie Thatcher put on another show Saturday night in the Western A girls basketball divisional championship game against Browning.
Thatcher buried five first half 3-pointers, four in the first quarter, giving Butte Central a 34-18 halftime lead. The Maroons would win the Western A championship, holding off Browning’s late run, 54-46.
Browning kept chipping away, cutting the deficit as low as seven in the third, but Butte Central was able to do just enough to withstand each run the Indians made. Thatcher’s six three, a buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter, swung momentum back in the Maroons’ favor for the time being.
The lead was cut down to as little as five in the fourth quarter, but Butte Central held off the final run by Browning by knocking down their attempts from the free throw line. The Maroons shot 14-for-19 in the second half from the charity stripe, with Thatcher knocking down nine of 13 tries.
Thatcher finished the night with a game-high 27 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists. She averaged 22.3 points per game in the Maroons’ divisional championship run. Megan Michelotti chipped in 14 points for Butte Central.
Butte Central moves on the State A girls basketball tournament where they will take on Glendive in the first round. Browning will also move on and will play Belgrade in the first round.
Hamilton and defending state champion Columbia Falls also locked in State A girls tournament berths with Saturday morning wins before squaring off in the consolation game.
Hamilton trailed by two with time winding down in regulation when, after two teammates had missed, Jordan Taggart rattled around a put back at the buzzer to tie things up at 38 and force overtime against the Wildkats.
Hamilton once again found themselves needing a basket with time expiring. Down by three with 11.5 seconds left, the Broncs opted for two, getting a layup with two seconds remaining, cutting the Columbia Falls lead to 43-42. Columbia Falls successfully inbounded the ball and ran the clock out to claim third place at the Western A girls divisional tournament.
Columbia Falls will take on Hardin in the first round of the State A tournament, while Hamilton will face unbeaten and top-ranked Havre.