BILLINGS – On paper, Columbus’ 37-30 win over Townsend Thursday at the Southern B girls basketball divisional tournament wasn’t an upset.
The Cougars were a No. 1 seed from District 4B, while the Bulldogs were a No. 3 seed from District 5B. But Townsend was 18-0 before the district tournament, where it lost its first game and had to battle back to take third. So the 20-1 Bulldogs were not your typical No. 3 seed.
It didn’t matter to Columbus, which continued its solid postseason with a dominating first half. The Cougars led 20-6 at halftime, holding Townsend to 2-of-19 shooting.
The Bulldogs, though, scored the first eight points of the third and trimmed the deficit to just 24-19 entering the fourth. Columbus quickly pushed the lead back to 12 to put the game away.
Alexa Riveland led a balanced attack with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and no turnovers. Tavia Rooney led Townsend with 10 points and 12 rebounds but shot just 4 of 15 from the field.
Colstrip and Big Timber fought for the final bid in the semifinals. Big Timber rallied from a late four-point deficit and closed on a 14-2 run to take home a 50-42 victory.
The two teams played even throughout most of the first half until a 6-0 Herders run ended the half and gave them a 23-16 lead.
The second half was a game of runs.
The lead ballooned to 11 early in the third before Colstrip closed the quarter on a 7-0 run and brought the deficit to four at 30-26. The Fillies’ momentum carried over.
The run ultimately reached 15-1 and with less than four minutes to play Colstrip led 40-36.
The Herders had one rally left, and it was a big one. A jumper by Jolie Wood and 3-pointer by Syndey Prather gave Big Timber the lead back and it would not let it go.
Big Timber scored 10 of the final 12 points to close the game and punch its ticket to the semis.
Hailee Brandon led Big Timber with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Prather poured in nine and added 12 boards. Baily Egan came off the bench to lead Colstrip with her own double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Big Timber will face Columbus on Friday night with the winner advancing to the Southern B divisional championship.