BILLINGS – Kaden Stradley broke his right hand last month against Billings Central. So he used his left to propel the Miles City boys into the Eastern A semifinals Wednesday.
With 6.6 seconds remaining and trailing 53-50, Lewistown inbounded the ball to Jaden Graham, who drove to the right wing to attempt a game-tying 3-pointer, but right before he could gather the ball to jump, Stradley poked it free from behind and saved it from going out of bounds. He was fouled with 0.7 seconds left and made one of two free throws to clinch a 54-50 win over the Central A’s top seed.
“We know he was going to take the last shot, because he’s the best player on their team,” said Stradley of Graham. “We’re not going to let him get it in, but once he got it in, he was loose with the ball and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’ That was awesome, as you can tell – I chased down the whole floor with the ball. It felt good to be able to do that for my team.”
It was the only upset of the night at Rimrock Auto Arena, as Miles City won its second game of the day after beating Sidney in a play-in game Wednesday afternoon. The Cowboys finished fourth in the Eastern A during the regular season, with a 7-11 overall record.
Steven Ray gave Miles City a 23-22 lead at halftime against Lewistown with a 3 right before the second quarter buzzer. Ray finished with a team-high 21 points and eight rebounds. The Cowboys pushed the advantage to six on a 60-foot pass and layup from Stradley to Ray midway through the third quarter.
Jaden Graham brought Lewistown back in the fourth, hitting multiple 3s, including an off-balance one from the left wing with 14 seconds left to make it a 52-50 game. The Eagles then fouled Miles City, but the Cowboys could only make one of two free throws, giving Graham a chance to tie, and Stradley a chance to save the win.
Stradley finished with 13 points, five assists, and three steals. Jayden Venable added 11 for the Cowboys. Tanner Trafton was the only other Eagle in double figures with 14.
Hardin meanwhile scored early and often in its Eastern A opener, beating Glendive, 90-50, in the last game of the night at Rimrock Auto Arena.
Trae Hugs scored a game-high 28 and collected five steals, while Famous Left Hand scored 25 and also had five steals. Hardin’s stout press defense forced a staggering 35 turnovers.
Stephen Steinbron led the Red Devils with 15 points and seven rebounds.
The boys semifinals are set for Friday at 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.