HAMILTON — Butte Central won an epic Western A semifinal over Browning on a late night in Hamilton. The hosting Broncs survived easier in their showdown.
The Maroons held off the Indians 58-56 in overtime to clinch a spot in the championship. Dillon and Hamilton followed later, much later. A long day of games made the Beavers and Broncs tip off after 9:45 p.m., nearly two hours later than originally scheduled. By shortly after 11 p.m., though, Hamilton has secured a 52-39 win.
Browning and Butte Central saw no separation throughout their thriller. The two were tied at the end of the first quarter, the third quarter, and then at regulation. With less than a minute to go and the Maroons up by three, a loose ball bounced right to the Indians’ Riley Spoonhunter. The junior drilled a contested 3-pointer to tie the game. Butte Central held for a final shot, and Jared Simkins couldn’t get it to fall, sending the game to overtime.
Butte Central jumped out to a lead early in overtime and extended the advantage to five with a few late free throws. Browning hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final score closer.
Cade Holter led the Maroons with 17 points before fouling out. Brayden Harrington added 11. Spoonhunter scored 16 for Browning. Deion Mad Plume added 12.
Hamilton and Dillon appeared to be heading to another thrilling finish for a while. The Broncs led 16-10 at halftime, and 28-25 at halftime. Hamilton still led by three entering the final quarter, but the Broncs were finally able to pull away in the fourth, winning 52-39.
Hamilton and Butte Central will meet for a fourth time in the divisional championship game. The two split their regular-season meetings. Hamilton won the Southwest A championship versus the Maroons last week. The two are scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. Saturday.
In loser-out games on Saturday, Frenchtown eliminated Libby 63-52 and Whitefish came from behind to beat Polson 67-63 in overtime.
On Saturday morning, Whitefish will meet Browning at 11 a.m. Frenchtown battles Dillon at the same time.