BILLINGS – Round 3 goes to Billings Central this time.
The Rams jumped on Hardin from the opening tip in the Eastern A championship game Saturday night and ran away with a 65-51 boys basketball win to claim the divisional title and take a 2-1 lead in the season series.
The teams split two regular-season meetings this year, much like 2018 when the two each won a regular-season game before meeting again in the State A championship. Hardin won the title 47-43.
Central led 18-9 after a strong first quarter Saturday and ran the lead to double digits in the second before Hardin’s Andrew House hit a fade-away 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to pull the Bulldogs within 33-25.
The Rams quickly built the lead back to double figures and went into the fourth quarter up 46-33. Hardin never threatened again.
Central will be the East’s No. 1 seed at the State A boys tournament in Great Falls, set for March 7-9. Hardin will be No. 2. Livingston and Laurel also advanced from the East after winning loser-out games earlier Saturday. Livingston will be the No. 3 seed, as the Rangers beat Laurel 56-36 in the Eastern A consolation final.