HAMILTON — For the second straight meeting between Dillon and Hamilton, the Broncs had a last-second opportunity to snatch victory.
Unlike last time, however, Hamilton's game-winning shot didn't go and Dillon captured the Southwest A season finale win Saturday night, 50-49.
"We were hoping," Hamilton coach Travis Blome said. "We were hoping to get a shot off, maybe one a little (closer) and they did a good job defensively."
It was 3-point aficionado Tanner Goligoski who got the look from behind the arc after Hamilton was unable to penetrate Dillon's stingy 2-3 zone defense. Goligoski shoots an impressive 44 percent from behind the arc,ccording to mthighschoolstats.com, but the buzzer beater rimmed out.
Had it landed, it would have been the second straight dagger delivered by Hamilton to Dillon. Back on Jan. 12, Hamilton senior Hunter Omlid drilled a game-winning 3-pointer to give the Broncs a 69-67 win. Omlid finished with 12 points Saturday, but the Broncs came up one point short on their home court this time around.
"Hamilton's such a great team, they're well coached and they're having a tremendous year, so for us to be able to come in here and win on the road and win this last game was big for the kids and program and we really feel we've been playing at a high level," Dillon coach Terry Thomas said. "So it was nice to be able to come out ahead."
For most of the second half Dillon played from behind, though. The Broncs led 24-19 less than a minute into the third quarter after Goligoski drilled a 3-pointer to open the half. Senior point guard Cam Rothie then had his hand in on Hamilton's next five points, hitting a free throw, making a transition layup and delivering an alley-oop pass to junior post Carson Rostad.
Rostad finished with a game-high 17 points, and at the 4:37 mark in the third quarter Hamilton led 31-21.
Hamilton's lead was 42-34 as late as the 6:13 mark of the fourth quarter, but the Beavers came marching back.
After a string of three free throws from Michael Haverfield and Bradley Rakich, Dillon's Dylan Cervelli hit the momentum-building 3-pointer that brought the Beavers within two, 42-40.
Omlid offset a Cole Truman bucket with a strong post move on a possession and an assist to Tyler Barnes, but back-to-back buckets from Cervelli and Haverfield tied the game at 46-46 with 3:11 to play. Cervelli knocked down two more free throws 30 seconds later to give the Beavers a lead 48-46, and Dillon was an efficient 11-for-13 shooting from the line.
The Broncs had a big shot in them, however, as junior Trey Searle connected on a deep 3-pointer with 1:24 remaining to help the Broncs retake the lead, 49-48.
But Hamilton couldn't get the game's biggest shot to go as Justus Peterson's layup one possession later with 1:05 remaining proved to be the game winner.
Peterson finished with six points — all in the second half. Truman led the Beavers in scoring with 11 points.
"We gotta just execute better down the stretch," Coach Blome said. "A lot of shots didn't fall that we're used to having fall, but they're not always going to go down and we gotta be able to stop them on the other end.
"But it was a great game and it'll be a good learning lesson for us."
The silver lining for the Broncs (8-2 in conference, 15-3 overall) is they had already clinched the Southwest A title regardless of Friday night's outcome. For the upperclassmen, playing on senior night, the loss stung, but they boys were able to see the bigger picture.
"It's going to hurt today but we gotta get passed it," Rothie said. "We're leaving (for the Southwest A tournament) Thursday and I guarantee we'll be seeing them again. Hopefully we can get them then."
Dillon (7-3, 12-6), still takes the Southwest A's No. 3 seed as Butte Central (8-2, 15-3) topped Corvallis Saturday, 49-23, to maintain the No. 2 spot.