Bozeman, Hellgate to vie for AA boys’ title

Bozeman, Hellgate to vie for AA boys’ title

Top seeds Missoula Hellgate from the Western Division and Bozeman from the Eastern advanced to the state Class AA championship game with wins in Friday’s semifinal round in the tournament being played at the Butte Civic Center.

Hellgate beat Great Falls High 61-38 to stay undefeated against Montana schools. The Knights lost to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in December non-conference play. Bozeman moved into the title tilt by topping Billings West 72-63.

Bozeman held off a late Billings West rush to come away with the win and move to the 6:30 p.m. Saturday championship game.

Ryan Lonergan led the 18-5 Hawks with 21 points, and Ryan Simpson collected 19 points and a tournament-high 15 rebounds. Lonergan had six rebounds and blocked two shots. Carter Ash tallied 13 points.

Billings West fell to 15-9 going into a 9 a.m. loser-out game at Butte High against Missoula Sentinel. It will be played Saturday with the winner going on to the 3:30 p.m. to vie for the third-place trophy.

Cade Tyson led West with 24 points and Jesse Owens scored 11. Lucas Gibb paced the Golden Bears on the boards with six rebounds.

Bozeman had a 52-39 command through three quarters before the Golden Bears rallied. They drew to within 63-60 as Owens canned a 3-point shot with just under 2 minutes left in the game. The Hawks, though, fared well at the free throw line to put the win on ice. Simpson meshed three free throws and Lonergan two in the final minutes.

Hellgate had a little more of a cruise behind the 17 points and nine rebounds of 6-foot-8 junior Abe Johnson. Rollie Worster scored 15 points in support.

The game was tied at 8-all after one quarter, but the Knights moved out to a 20-16 halftime edge and pulled away after intermission. They shot 56 percent from the field in the second half. Hellgate has a 21-1 record.

Great Falls High is 17-5 and will play a Saturday 9 a.m. game in the Civic Center. The loser-out contest with Helena High will determine a spot in the 3:30 p.m. third-place contest.

— Bruce Sayler, buttesports.com

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