HARDIN -- This one felt good.
After the Billings Central girls lost to Hardin in the semifinals of the State A girls basketball tournament in March, the Rams have been looking forward to facing the Bulldogs again. Central went down to the Dawg Pound on Friday night and escaped with a 60-56 overtime victory.
Billings Central built a 24-19 advantage at halftime despite giving up 15 points to Hardin's Marie Five. The Rams' lead grew to 32-21 less than two minutes into the third quarter, but Hardin would fight its way back into it.
"Marie is a phenomenal player. We have nothing but the utmost respect for that girl," Billings Central head coach Jetton Ailes said. "You've just got to be physical with her and get some ball pressure on the guards."
An 8-0 run by Five and Kamber GoodLuck cut the Rams' lead to three, and Central would lead by four going into the fourth quarter. The teams traded blows before Julianna Takes Horse sunk a free throw to tie the game for the first time since it was 11-11 after the end of the first quarter.
With the game tied at 50 with 15.5 seconds left, Ivery Fritzler buried two free throws to put Hardin up two, but Olivia Moten-Schell drew a foul on the other end with 8.1 seconds left to send her to the line for two. Moten-Schell buried both and a Hardin heave at the buzzer fell short, sending the game to overtime.
"Olivia is a great kid. She's made some huge strides leadership-wise. (Friday) she stepped up like we know she can and stepped up when her number was called," Ailes said.
Moten-Schell went to work in the extra session, scoring five of Central's eight points in the period, including the go-ahead basket on a baseline jumper with 25 seconds left.
Moten-Schell had a monster night for the Rams, finishing with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Five led Hardin with 28 points.
"It's a great environment, great tournament atmosphere. You know you're always going to get the crowd noise down here," Ailes said. "Our girls responded well. ... These girls were resilient and put it away in overtime. I'm extremely proud of each one of them. They earned this break, so we're going to go into Christmas break pretty happy."
The Hardin boys exacted revenge in the nightcap, running away from the Rams for an 88-61 victory.
Hardin's offense lit up the scoreboard once again, which is something folks should get accustomed to seeing, according to Bulldogs head coach Andrew RoundFace. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 46-28 halftime advantage before cruising to the win.
Hardin's boys and girls are back in action on Saturday at home against Livingston.