BOZEMAN — After opening the State A boys' basketball tournament with a loss, the Hamilton Broncs battled back to win three games and take the third-place trophy as they defeated Browning 74-69 on Saturday night at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
Tanner Goligoski scored 27 points thanks to shooting 6 for 11 from 3-point range and Carter Kearns added 16 for the Broncs, who end the season with a program record in wins at 26-1.
"It's exciting for the guys. Thursday was really tough and it hurt bad. This doesn't take away all the hurt but it does feel good," Hamilton coach Travis Blome said. "How hard it is to come back through the loser's bracket, especially when we had such high hopes. It just shows how tough these kids are and where we've come and I'm really proud of them."
Hamilton and Browning came out shooting lights-out in the first half. The teams combined for 14 threes in the first half and Browning went into the break with a 39-36 lead. Goligoski scored 17 of his points then and knocked down five threes including a stretch where he scored 14 straight points for the Broncs. Browning's Tyree Whitcomb scored 10 straight for his own team to give them the halftime lead. Whitcomb with finish with a team-high 26 and Nathaniel Stiffarm, who transferred from Billings Senior for his senior year in Browning, finished with 12.
"That first half was one of the best first halves of basketball," Blome said. "Had to be fun to watch with the kids running up and down the floor, making shots, playing really good basketball. Second half, legs get a little more tired ... our guys really battled and they did a good job at the end."
After a back-and-forth, but slower third quarter, Hamilton began to pull away midway through the fourth, leading by as much as 10 with just under three minutes left. The teams exchanged free throws down the stretch but Browning never could quite catch up. Brandon Aimsback added 11 for Browning while Hunter Omlid tallied 12 for Hamilton.
Hamilton 60, Lewistown 57
Hamilton advanced to the third-place game with a 60-57 win over Lewistown on Saturday morning.
Three players scored in double digits for the Broncs, led by Hunter Omlid with 19 points. Cam Rothie added 13 and Carter Kearns scored 11.
A close game from the beginning, Hamilton and Lewistown went into halftime tied 29-29. Hamilton used a four-point advantage in the third quarter to go ahead and the Broncs shot 8 for 18 from the three-point line.
Fergus out-rebounded the Broncs 38-22 but only shot 38 percent from the field while the Broncs connected on 51 percent of their shots. The Golden Eagles, who were back in the state tournament for the first time since 2002, finished their season at 19-6.
Browning 69, Frenchtown 62
Browning moved on to the third-place game with a 69-62 win over Frenchtown on Saturday morning.
The Broncs led 21-10 after the first quarter but a strong second quarter from Browning made it a one-point deficit by half. The Running Indians used the third quarter to pull away. Browning withstood a 33-point performance from Cade Baker and Jared Cole added 11 for the Broncs.
Frenchtown finished its season at 17-11.
Nathaniel Stiffarm scored 15 to lead the Running Indians while Tyree Whitcomb added 14 and Ethan Running Crane added 10. Browning shot the ball 52 percent from the field and was 9 for 15 from 3-point range.