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HAMILTON - It took four tries for the Billings Central girls' basketball team to defeat Eastern A rival and third-ranked powerhouse Sidney. When the Rams finally earned that win, it came on the grandest stage possible.

With the help of senior guard Austin Hanser's gutty performance and some solid defense by junior forward Jackie Elliott, Billings Central (18-6) won its first State A girls' basketball tournament since 1990 with a shocking 50-42 victory over the Eagles before a raucous crowd at Dale Berry Court.

For Hanser, who dribbled her way through the Sidney defense, avoiding getting fouled as the final 10 seconds ticked away, the state title was a dream come true.

"Honestly, I didn't want to get fouled, I didn't want to go to the line, I just wanted the game to end," she said. "I tried to stay away from the defense as much as possible. And just seeing the looks on my team's faces and hearing the crowd, it was unreal. It's indescribable what I feel."

Earlier in the evening in the consolation game, two-time defending state champion Anaconda snagged the third-place plaque with a 41-33 win over Central A upstart Havre.

Vanessa Jense came off the bench to supply the Copperheads with a team-high 12 points as Anaconda (20-4) settled for the consolation title as future Montana Lady Griz Torry Hill looked on from the bench with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"Vanessa Jense... she was lights out," said Anaconda head coach Maury Cook. "She's got ice water in her veins, stepped up and hit those free throws and hit a huge three for us. It's like she had no fear."

Billings Central 50, Sidney 42

After another future Montana Lady Griz, senior Jordan Sullivan, gave the Eagles a 22-21 lead at halftime by knocking home a 16-foot buzzer beater, the Rams could have had that old sinking feeling going into the second half.

That was hardly the case according to Billings Central head coach Jeff Malby.

"More than anything else, it was the gutsy performance that came from believing that we could do it," said Malby, whose team fell twice to Sidney during the regular season and again in the Eastern A divisional championship game. "We made some plays when we needed to. We had the mindset coming in from the get-go that we were going to do this."

After trailing by as many as six in the third quarter, the Rams clawed back into the lead on a bank shot by Maggie Powell late in the period to take a 32-31 lead at the start of the final quarter.

But that's when Elliott helped shut down Sullivan, who scored 16 points through the first three quarters. The 6-foot-2 guard/forward was limited to just a lone 3-pointer over the final eight minutes.

After a 37-37 tie with just under four minutes to play, the Rams went on a decisive 7-3 run, then finished by scoring six of the final eight points to close it out. In the fourth quarter, Billings Central went 12-for-15 from the foul line.

When the final horn sounded as Hanser knifed her way through the Eagle defense, the Rams piled on each other to the shrieks of their faithful.

Hanser finished with a game-high 21 points to go with a team-best eight rebounds. Elliott added 15 points.

Sullivan paced Sidney (20-3) with 19 points and six boards.

"I knew we had a team that could go all the way," Hanser said. "We decided to come out here and prove everyone wrong."

Sidney 11 11 9 11 - 42

Bil. Central 7 14 11 18 - 50

SIDNEY - Kayla Lake 1-1 0-2 3, Jordan Sullivan 7-16 3-4 19, Janae Moore 1-5 1-2 3, Megan Johnson 2-2 1-1 5, Whitney Thiel 2-9 1-2 5, Kodi Satra 0-0 0-0 0, Krista Steinbeisser 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Hammer 1-5 5-5 7. Totals 14-38 11-16 42.

BILLINGS CENTRAL - Jackie Elliott 6-12 3-6 15, Brenna Chilton 0-3 0-2 0, Austin Hanser 7-15 6-6 21, Maggie Powell 1-2 2-2 4, Marissa Stanton 2-3 3-5 7, Miranda Rabold 1-2 1-2 3, Katie Cummins 0-2 0-0 0, Ryanne Frazier 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-40 15-23 50.

3-point goals - Sidney 3-11 (Sullivan 2-4, Lake 1-1, Hammer 0-1, Thiel 0-5), BC 1-7 (A. Hanser 1-3, Elliott 0-2, B. Chilton 0-2). Total fouls - Sidney 18, BC 18. Fouled out - Hammer, B. Chilton. Rebounds - Sidney 16 (Sullivan 6), BC 30 (A. Hanser 8). Assists - Sidney 7 (Hammer 2, Sullivan 2, Moore 2), BC 6 (A. Hanser 3). Turnovers - Sidney 11 (Moore 5), BC 10 (four with two). Blocked shots - Sidney 3 (Sullivan 2), BC 2 (Elliott 2).

Anaconda 41, Havre 33

The Copperheads trailed 8-7 after the first quarter and 16-13 at halftime before settling down in the third quarter and talking over in the fourth.

"This group of seniors, three out of their four years they've played on Saturday night at state," Cook said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. There aren't many kids who can say they've won three trophies like this group has."

Sammy Evans got the Blue Ponies (13-13) back within 34-31 with two minutes left to play, but the Copperheads finished on a 6-2 burst to claim their crown.

Chelsea Galle scored nine points for Anaconda. The stifling defense of senior guard Lisa Laslovich was another key to the Copperhead win.

Senior guard Cassi Durrah led the Blue Ponies with a game-high 17 points ,scoring all but two in the final three quarters.

Anaconda outrebounded Havre 30-20 behind Laslovich's team-leading seven boards. The Copperheads were money at the foul line, hitting 13 of 19 overall, but sinking 7 of 9 in the fourth quarter.

Havre 8 7 9 8 - 33

Anaconda 7 6 16 12 - 41

HAVRE - Jaclyn Evans 0-2 0-2 0, Cassi Darrah 6-14 5-6 17, Alaynna Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Chris Mack 0-4 3-4 3, Cali Freler 2-4 1-2 6, Paighton Gilman 0-1 1-2 1, Hayley Donoran 3-7 0-0 6. Totals 11-32 10-16 33.

ANACONDA - Vanessa Jense 2-2 6-7 12, Cara McNeil 3-9 1-2 7, Lisa Laslovich 2-10 2-3 6, Rachel Wagner 2-6 1-1 6, Jackie Verlanic 0-2 0-0 0, Chelsea Galle 3-6 2-3 9, Korey Krumm 0-2 0-1 0, Teryn Green 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 12-38 13-19 41.

3-point goals - Havre 1-7 (Freler 1-2, Mack 0-3, Darrah 0-2), Anaconda 4-17 (Jense 2-2, Wagner 1-4, Galle 1-3, Laslovich 0-6, McNeil 0-2). Rebounds - Havre 22 (Gilman 8, Donoran 7), Anaconda 31 (Laslovich 7, Krumm 5). Steals - Havre 8 (Evans 5), Anaconda 4 (Jense, Laslovich, Galle, Krumm). Blocks - Havre 0, Anaconda 3 (Laslovich, Krumm, Green). Total fouls - Havre 17, Anaconda 17. Fouled out - Freler, Donoran. Turnovers - Havre 15, Anaconda 15.

Anaconda 62, Columbia Falls 48

Senior Lisa Laslovich tallied a career-high 27 points and had five assists and six steals as the Copperheads rebounded from Friday night's semifinal loss to Sidney.

Fellow senior Chelsea Galle added 14 points and seven rebounds as Anaconda moved into the third-place game.

Columbia Falls received strong games from the DeWit sisters. Kelsey scored 17 points and grabbed eight boards and Kayla collected 15 and eight.

The Wildkats closed the season with a 15-8 mark.

Loser out

C. Falls 13 13 11 11 - 48

Anaconda 22 12 11 17 - 62

COLUMBIA FALLS - Kayla Stratton 0-1 2-2 2, Cedar Jordt 0-0 0-0 0, Gilley Dani 0-4 3-8 3, Ashli Fairbank 0-0 3-4 3, Kayla DeWit 6-14 3-4 15, Allie Lapman 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Cady 0-1 0-0 0, Courtney White 0-0 0-0 0, Shay Grilley 2-2 2-2 7, Jonna Werner 0-0 1-2 1, Kelsey DeWit 6-10 4-6 17. Totals 14-32 18-28 48.

ANACONDA - Jeanna Brunell 0-0 0-0 0, Abby Stanberry 0-0 1-2 1, Vanessa Jense 1-2 4-4 6, Jayne Stergar 0-0 0-0 0, Cara McNeil 2-5 2-2 6, Lisa Laslovich 6-12 13-17 27, Rachel Wagner 2-8 0-0 5, Jackie Verlanic 0-0 0-0 0, Chelsea Galle 4-11 2-2 14, Korey Krumm 1-5 1-3 3, Lacey Knadler 0-0 0-0 0, Teryn Green 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-44 23-30 62.

3-point goals - C. Falls 2-4 (Grilley 1-1, Ke. DeWit 1-2, Ka. DeWit 0-1), Anaconda 7-23 (Galle 4-10, Laslovich 2-5, Wagner 1-6, McNeil 0-1, Krumm 0-1). Rebounds - C. Falls 31 (Ka. DeWit 8, Ke. DeWit 8), Anaconda 26 (Galle 7). Assists - C. Falls 4 (Grilley 3), Anaconda 11 (Laslovich 5). Steals - C. Falls 11 (Ke. DeWit 4), Anaconda 15 (Laslovich 6). Turnovers - C. Falls 22, Anaconda 17. Total fouls - C. Falls 19, Anaconda 22. Fouled out - Ke. DeWit.

Havre 39, Butte Central 29

The Blue Ponies continued their march through consolation play behind Cassi Darrah.

Darrah scored 12 points and handed out three assists for Havre. Jaclyn Evans added 11.

The Blue Ponies earned a rematch with Anaconda, which had dispatched Havre 56-30 in first-round action Thursday.

Butte Central, which won its first state game in 27 years on Thursday, ended its season at 13-10.

Quinn Peoples netted 10 points to lead the Maroons.

Loser out

Butte C. 6 5 4 13 - 28

Havre 7 7 12 13 - 39

BUTTE CENTRAL - Ashley Kasperick 0-0 0-0 0, Taylure Svejkovsky 0-0 0-0 0, Kourtney Kambich 0-1 2-2 2, Brynne Kambich 0-4 2-4 2, Lexie Murphy 3-4 1-2 7, Hannah Stajcar 0-3 1-2 1, Quinn Peoples 4-10 0-0 10, Mariah Cooney 0-0 0-0 0, Theresa Banks 0-5 6-8 6. Totals 7-27 12-18 28.

HAVRE - Jenny Job 0-0 0-0 0, Jaclyn Evans 3-5 2-2 11, Cassi Darrah 4-7 3-4 12, Chris Mack 2-2 0-0 5, Cali Freler 2-5 0-2 4, Paighton Gilman 0-0 2-2 2, Hayley Donoran 2-6 1-2 5. Totals 13-25 8-12 39.

3-point goals - Butte Central 2-9 (Peoples 2-6, B. Kambich 0-1, Stajcar 0-1, Banks 0-1), Havre 5-14 (Evans 3-5, Darrah 1-3, Mack -11, Freler 0-2, Donoran 0-3). Rebounds - Butte Central 17 (B. Kambich 4), Havre 18 (Gilman 6). Assists - Butte Central 6 (Banks 3), Havre 9 (Darrah 3). Steals - Butte Central 4 (Banks 2), Havre 3 (three with one). Turnovers - Butte Central 7, Havre 10. Total fouls - Butte Central 13, Havre 15. Fouled out - Murphy.

 

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