BUTTE — Cade Tyson scored a game-high 23 points, teammate Jesse Owens added 18 and the Billings West Golden Bears claimed the third-place trophy at the State AA boys basketball tournament on Saturday afternoon at the Butte Civic Center.
West defeated Great Falls High 53-40.
Tyson wowed the afternoon crowd with impressive ball-handling skills and a quick release, sinking 8 of 11 shots on his way to the 23 points. He made 6 of 6 free throws, helping West finish 11 of 12 from the charity stripe in the game.
Owens was equally spectacular, slicing to the basket for acrobatic finishes and hitting jump shots all over the court. The future Montana Grizzly football receiver was 6-of-14 shooting, including 3 for 6 behind the 3-point line. He also had five rebounds, two steals and an assist in the win.
Kobe Nelson had six points and eight rebounds for the Bears, with much of that coming in the first half. West, which defeated Missoula Sentinel 51-43 in a Saturday loser-out game, led 15-9 after the first quarter, but Keegan Bistodeau and Blake Thelen shot the Bison back into the game, combining for 17 first-half points and four 3-pointers, three from Thelen.
Great Falls High, which used a 59-44 loser-out win over Helena High to advance to the consolation, tied the game at 26-all heading into halftime. Each team shot better than 40 percent in the opening 16 minutes.
The Bears took a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but led 41-33 entering the final frame. That’s when Great Falls High made things interesting.
Cash Abbot buried a triple, then Bistodeau followed a missed shot by tipping the ball in, getting fouled in the process. Despite missing the ensuing free throw, the Bison trailed only 41-38, but Owens and Tyson quickly dashed any dreams of a comeback.
Josh Erbacher added five points, all in the first half, for West. Lucas Gibb was the only other scorer for the Golden Bears, making a first-half free throw for his lone point.
Bistodeau and Thelen each finished with 12 points for Great Falls High, while Riley Callery added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. The Bison made only 4 of 16 free throws, including an 0-for-7 performance in the second half. Great Falls High led only once in the contest, 3-0 on the first points of the game.