BILLINGS — Forsyth and Columbus claimed the first two State B girls tournament tickets from the Southern division Friday, winning semifinals at the Southern B divisional inside Rimrock Auto Arena.
Forsyth opened the day with a hard-fought 53-43 win over Three Forks. The Wolves jumped out to a seven-point lead in the second quarter, but Forsyth fought back behind Lindsey Hein, who hit a left-handed hook shot at the buzzer to pull the Dogies within 25-23 at halftime.
Forsyth then scored the first seven points of the third to take a 30-25 lead. Heather Blackwell hit a 3-pointer right before the quarter buzzer to extend that to 38-32 heading into the fourth when Three Forks woke up. The Wolves scored 11 of the next 14 points, capped by a Kyle Olson 3 to put them up 43-41. Forsyth tied it, then Jordan Cookman hit a baseline jumper to give the Dogies the lead back at 45-43 with 3:19 to play.
That turned out to be the final made field goal of the game. Forsyth made eight straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win to send them back to state for the first time in three years.
Hein was the game MVP, finishing with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Olson, who will play basketball at Carroll College, scored a game-high 26, but shot just 9 of 30 from the field.
Columbus had a much easier time in the second semifinal, taking a 30-8 halftime lead on Big Timber before cruising to a 40-21 win.
The Cougars shot 65 percent from the field in the first half, while holding Big Timber to just 2 of 15 (13.3 percent).
Brooklyn Wyllie was a perfect 6 for 6 from the field as she led everyone with 15 points. No Big Timber player scored more than five.
This is Columbus’s first trip to state since 2015.
The Cougars and Forsyth will meet at 6:30 p.m. in Saturday’s Southern B championship to determine the South’s No. 1 seed at state. Three Forks and Big Timber will play loser-out games Saturday morning with the chance to reach the consolation final. Three teams advance from the Southern B.