BOZEMAN — Billings Central ended Hamilton's perfect season with a 64-37 win over the Broncs on Thursday at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in the first round of the State A boys' basketball tournament.
Chrishon Dixon led the way with 20 points and Sam Gray added 17 as the Rams built a 21-8 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
"Our guys were locked in on defense tonight. They didn't let too many guys get wide-open looks," Central coach Jim Stergar said. "They've shot the ball pretty darn good just about every game so we needed to create an off night for them. Get hands in their face and rebound and don't give any second-chance points."
Liam Clancy added 10 for Central, six of which came in the first quarter to spark the Rams. Dixon was seemingly driving at will and also shot the ball 11 for 12 from the free-throw line while Gray was 8 for 11. The Rams out-rebounded Hamilton 42-33.
Carter Kearns led Hamilton with 13 points as the Broncs dropped to 23-1 and will take on Belgrade at 2 p.m. on Friday in a loser-out game. Hamilton, one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the state, shot the ball 30 percent from the field and was 4 for 18 from 3-point range.
With around four minutes left, Hamilton coach Travis Blome was called for a technical after a foul call. Gray made both the free throws to pad Central's lead. A short time later, Hamilton's Hunter Omlid was also called for a technical after appearing to argue about a foul call on Dixon. Dixon proceeded to make three of his four free throws. Omlid fouled out with that technical and finished with eight points.
Central used free throws and a couple of layups to pull away from there.
Central will play Browning at 8 p.m. on Friday in the semifinals.
"It feels great going to the semifinals again, knowing we've done it two years in a row," Dixon said. "We just have to keep it going and keep the momentum going."
Lewistown 60, Frenchtown 40
Playing in their first state game in five years, the Broncs struggled early, spotting the Golden Eagles a 13-1 lead in the first quarter. Frenchtown trailed 27-8 at halftime and never recovered.
Lewistown shot 58.3 percent from the field (21 for 36). Frenchtown shot 35.1 percent (13 for 37) and lost the battle of the boards handily, 38-15.
The Golden Eagles did a lot of damage inside, where they held a 26-12 edge in points in the paint. Junior Jaden Graham had a big game for Lewistown with 26 points. He hit 10 of 14 shots from the field.
Jared Cole came off the bench to lead Frenchtown in scoring with 11 points.