BELGRADE — Boys Eastern AA divisionals tipped off early Monday morning with Belgrade, Billings Senior, Billings West, and Billings Skyview all punching their ticket to the semifinals in dramatic fashion.
#8 Belgrade 53, #1 Bozeman 50
Belgrade (6-13) may have pulled off the upset of the year, taking down the top-seeded Bozeman Hawks (17-2) in the final minutes to win by three, 53-50.
Bozeman, who didn't lose a single game in conference play, struggled from three shooting just under 20-percent (7-36) while Belgrade finished 8-19 (.421).
The Hawks held the lead for the majority of the game holding an eight-point lead at the half and leading by as much as 11 in the third quarter.
However, a late push led by Belgrade's Ta'Veus Randle brought the Panthers back within three with just over four minutes remaining.
With less than 30 seconds left on the clock, Wyatt Russell scored the go-ahead bucket for the Panthers with a layup in transition to ultimately lead Belgrade to their first victory over the Hawks since 2002.
Randle led all players with 29 points. Bozeman's Jackson Basye followed with 19.
Belgrade will play Billings Senior in the semifinals Friday at 3:30 p.m.
#4 Billings Senior 50, #5 Great Falls CMR 45
In true March Madness fashion, Billings Senior (11-8) and Great Falls CMR (8-11) was a back-and-forth affair that went into overtime with the Broncs pulling past to win by five, 50-45.
With nine ties and six lead changes, four points was the largest margin for either team in regulation play.
Down by one with 2:30 remaining in the fourth, a steal by CMR's Gavin Grosenick translated to a put-back layup by his teammate Trigg Mapes to retake the lead 42-41.
With the Rustlers in double bonus, a foul on the floor sent the Broncs to the charity stripe, which ultimately sent the game into overtime.
CMR followed with four freethrows of their own in overtime to take a 45-42 lead. However, a 3-pointer from Chazz Haws and a short corner jumper by Walker put the Broncs back on top by one.
Chasing three with 4.1 left in the clock, CMR had one final shot off an inbounds play from the sideline, but Senior's Bubba Bergen sealed the deal for the Broncs with a steal and layup at the buzzer
to win 50-45.
Senior will play #8 Belgrade in the semifinals Friday at 3:30 p.m.
#6 Billings West 57, #3 Bozeman Gallatin 55
Down by as much as 13 points in the fourth quarter, Billings West (9-10) clawed their way back for an overtime win to upset Bozeman Gallatin (9-10) by two, 57-55.
The Raptors were large and in charge early building a quick double-digit lead in the first half, which was highlighted by the team's 71-percent 3-point shooting (5-7) and Eli Hunter's 13 points.
However, West slowly chipped away in the final quarter. With less than a minute remaining, Billy Carlson inbounded the ball to Gabe Hatler on the left block for an AND-1 layup off the glass, which
tied the game at 49 to force overtime.
West's Sam Phillips continued rolling for the Golden Bears, draining a corner three to increase their lead to four. He finished a game-high 20 points.
Gallatin's Rylan Schlepp answered back with a spin move on the right block, but the Golden Bears held on to win by two.
West will play #2 Skyview in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m.
#2 Billings Skyview 54, #7 Great Falls 47
With the help of Payton Sander's team-high 24 points, Billings Skyview (12-7) pulled past Great Falls (8-11) in the second half to win by seven, 54-47.
Reed Harris helped the Bison stay within reach of the Falcons throughout the game's entirety recording a game-high 26 points. With seven minutes remaining, the 6-foot-4 guard brought the game within one
drawing contact on a layup in transition for a three-point play.
However, two back-to-back field goals by Sanders coupled with Lane Love's 15 points lifted the Falcons to victory.
Skyview will play crosstown foe #6 Billings West in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m.