BILLINGS – The wait was worth it for the Livingston Rangers.
Back on Dec. 18, Laurel’s Gaje Leischner tipped in the game-winning basket at the buzzer to beat Livingston in the teams’ only regular-season boys basketball meeting.
— Laurel Locomotives (@LocomotivePride) December 19, 2018
The Rangers got revenge Thursday and are now headed to the Eastern A divisional semifinal round. Livingston outlasted Laurel 45-40 in the final Eastern A first-round game at Rimrock Auto Arena, making 10 consecutive free throws in the final minutes to seal the win.
Brendon Johnson was especially good, going 12 of 12 from the line on his way to a game-high 21 points. Laurel cut the deficit to two multiple times in the fourth quarter but could never tie or take the lead.
Both offenses struggled early. Livingston led 18-11 at halftime, as Laurel shot 3 of 17 from the field. The Locomotives shot 28.9 percent for the game, while the Rangers were a little better at 36.4 percent.
Livingston advances to Friday’s semifinal against Hardin, the East’s No. 1 seed, at 8 p.m.
In Thursday’s first game, Billings Central ran by Havre 55-41. The Rams led 34-19 at halftime and maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the second half.
Sam Gray led Central with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Cade Herriford scored 10, all in the first half. Kellen Detrick led Havre with 17.
Central will play Miles City in Friday’s first boys semifinal at 6:30 p.m.