GREAT FALLS — The Butte Central Maroons will be playing on Saturday of the Class A State tournament.
But just barely.
The Maroons held off a fierce fourth quarter comeback by Lewistown today for a 59-58 loser-out victory over the Golden Eagles at the Four Seasons Arena.
The win sends BC to a Saturday 9 a.m. loser-out game against tonight’s loser of the Dillon-Laurel semifinal game. The winner of that game, which will be played at the Four Seasons Arena, will play for third place.
“The fact that we’re playing on Saturday at State is pretty significant,” BC coach Brodie Kelly said. “We were sitting at 2-4, we were just hoping to get into the divisional tournament.”
Sophomore Dougie Peoples scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Maroons to the victory that helps BC accomplish its long-stated goal of playing on Saturday.
Junior Drew Badovinac continued his postseason breakout with 11 points, and senior Bryan “Hugo” Holland scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers as the Maroons took the lead for good with a 10-0 run late in the second quarter.
Egan Lester, another BC senior, scored six of his seven points in the fourth quarter. Junior Bryson Sestrich scored five points, and sophomore Kyle Hotler scored three points and grabbed six rebounds.
Sophomore Konnor Pochervina also contributed for the Maroons, who will take a 12-9 record into Saturday’s game.
Sophomore Royce Robinson scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out to lead Lewistown, which closes the season at 12-8.
Jalen Robinson scored 15 points, and Fischer Brown tossed in 10.
Brown nearly scored 12, including the game-winning shot in the final seconds. After BC missed a pair of free throws to extend the lead, Brown just missed a shot.
That came after the Eagles used a barrage of 3-pointers to cut into a 11-point lead.
Central trailed 8-6 after defense dominated the first quarter.
The Eagles held an 18-14 lead after Royce Robinson scored his 11pth point late in the second quarter.
Holter cut the lead to two before a Holland 3-poitner put BC on top 19-18. After a Peoples bucket, Holland hit another 3-pointer to make it 24-18.
“That was huge to get us going in the first half,” Kelly said.
Lewistown held for the final shot, and Brown cut the lead to 24-20 at the break.
The Maroons led 37-28 after a Peoples bucket. Lewistown, though, scored five straight points to cut the lead to 37-33 after three.
BC started fast, and led by nine points multiple times in the final stanza before the Eagles cut the down to a razor-thin margin.
“We just couldn’t put them away,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to give Lewistown credit for the shots they were making. Putting teams away is usually our strength, too.”
The Eagles nearly overcame that margin altogether, but Brown’s desperation shot was off the mark, and the Maroons celebrated on the court.
“For this crew, I’m just really proud of them to be still playing Saturday on State,” Kelly said. “We’re going to play a good team in the morning.”
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