BILLINGS – The Billings Central girls celebrated like they won the Eastern A after beating Laurel Friday. On Saturday, they actually did.
Senior Chloe Paharik, fresh off Friday night’s game-winning overtime 3-pointer, made a driving layup with just more than a minute to play to put Central ahead, and the Rams held on for a 44-42 win over Havre in the divisional championship, snapping the Blue Ponies’ 44-game winning streak.
Havre led 40-38 with less than two minutes to play, but Central freshman Solei Elletson hit a left-handed runner in the lane to tie it. Paharik then put the Rams up 42-40 with her only field goal. Friday’s 3-pointer was also her only field goal of the semifinal.
Havre had one last chance with 0.7 seconds, but Olivia Moten-Schell stole the inbounds pass to seal the win.
Saturday’s game featured six ties and eight lead changes, and the teams were never separated by more than two points at the end of any quarter. Moten-Schell and Isabelle Erickson led Central with 14 points each. Erickson scored 10 in the first quarter. The Rams were excellent at the free throw line, making 14 of 17 attempts (82.4 percent).
Kyndall Keller led all scorers with 15 points, but was just 6 of 20 from the field.
Havre, the defending Class A state champion, hadn’t lost since the 2017 State A tournament, though Central came the closest in a 63-59 overtime loss in the first game of this season back on Dec. 7.
Central will be the East’s No. 1 seed at the State A girls tournament in Great Falls, set for March 7-9. Havre will be the No. 2 seed. Hardin and Laurel won loser-out games Saturday morning to also advance. Hardin will be the No. 3 seed after beating Laurel 42-34 in the Eastern A consolation game.