Maroons battle to OT win over Livingston

Maroons battle to OT win over Livingston
Butte Central's Braden Harrington looks to score as Livingston's Jack Waddell defends Saturday morning at the CMR Fieldhouse. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

GREAT FALLS — The Butte Central Maroons kept its season alive for a few more hours.

The they had to win a street fight to do it, too.

The Maroons knocked off Livingston 56-51 in an overtime brawl this morning in a loser-out game of the Class A State boys’ basketball tournament at the CMR Fieldhouse. (Stats)

The Maroons will play Hamilton, which beat browning 74-62 in the other loser-out game, in tonight’s 5 o’clock third-place game at the Four Seasons Arena.

The meeting for the trophy will be the fifth of the season between the two Southwestern A rivals. Each team has won two of those games. Both teams are 21-5.

“It will be a dog fight again,” BC coach Brodie Kelly said.

As the Maroons proved against the Rangers, they are up for the fight.

Dylan Sestrich scored 14 points, and fellow senior Cade Holter tallied 13 to lead the Maroons to their third win over Livingston this season.

“It was a little pitchy,” Sestrich said of the game that saw 38 personal fouls and several verbal altercations — including one between the head coaches. “We both want to keep going at state. We came out, fortunately.”

A clutch 3-pointer, a rebound and a pair of free throws from Sestrich are the biggest reason why the Maroons survived the battle.

Sestrich took a pass from Matt Simkins and buried the trey with 1 minute, 57 seconds left in the extra stanza.

When Livingston’s Brendon Johnson drove and just missed a contested shot, Sestrich pulled down the rebound. Then, after a less-than-desirable day at the free throw line for the Maroons, Sestrich sank a pair of free tosses with 13.1 seconds left to put the win away.

“It was kind of a heart breaker last night, but we knew we had to come to play,” Sestrich said. “We want to bring home some hardware.”

The Maroons looked poised to cruise to victory a couple of times, and BC led by as many as eight points at 27-19 after a Gator Yelenich bucket with 2:15 left in the second quarter.

The Rangers, though, kept fighting back. Mcleod Versland hit a 3-pointer, Morgan Rosberg turned an old fashioned three-point play, and Versland hit another 3-pointer to put the Rangers up 28-27.

Simkins scored off a Holter pass just before the buzzer to send BC into the halftime locker room up 29-28.

Central led 36-30 after a Braden Harrington three with 5:02 left in the third quarter. The Rangers didn’t give up another point for nearly a full quarter.

Johnson and John Waddell hit 3-pointers to tie the game at 36 with 3:59 left in the third. Thanks to some tough BC defense, led by Jared Simkins, the game the score didn’t change until Yelenich hit a pair of free throws with 6:26 left in the fourth quarter.

A pair of Sestrich free throws put the Maroons up 46-43 with 1:08 left. Johnson, though, drove for a bucket and a foul to tie the game at 46 with 44 ticks left.

The Maroons had a chance to win, but a shot by Yelenich at the buzzer bounced just out as the buzzer sounded.

The lead changed hands twice before Sestich hit one of two free tosses with 2:33 to tie the game at 49.

Two Yelenich free throws were followed by another drive by Johnson to knot the game at 51 with 2:11 left.

Just 14 seconds later, Sestrich put the Maroons on top for good.

“Both teams played extremely hard,” Kelly said. “You wouldn’t know that this is for the third-place trophy. Neither team played with any less effort or desire or anything. It was a grinder.”

Nine different Maroons scored points in the win. Yelenich tossed in seven, while Heaphy and Matt Simkins each scored six, Harrington knocked down four, Patrick Dolan and Trevor Neumann scored three, and Jared Simkins tossed in one.

Rosberg scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points in the first half. Johnson tossed in 15, while Waddell scored 10, and Versland netted eight.

Livingston closes the season at 12-12.

Kelly praised the Rangers and head coach Layne Glaus, even though the coaches exchanged words in the second quarter.

“Give them credit,” Kelly said. “Layne has done a really good job with that bunch. They’ve come a long time.”

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