MISSOULA—The Lewistown boys entered Friday’s semifinal looking for their first state championship game appearance since 1988. While the ending wasn’t for the faint of heart, the Golden Eagles accomplished just that.
Bryce Graham scored a go-ahead jump shot in the lane with five seconds left, got fouled and converted the free throw as Lewistown beat Dillon 58-56 in the State A semifinals at Dahlberg Arena on Friday.
The ending capped off an electric game between the two foes, who went blow-for-blow from the opening tip.
Royce Robinson led Lewistown with 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Fischer Brown followed with 12 points as the only other Eagle to score in double figures.
Three-point shooting was critical for Golden Eagles, who hit seven triples.
Meanwhile, Dillon struggled to hit from beyond the arc, so instead the Beavers did almost all of their damage inside in the paint. Callahan Hoffman, who scored 16 points, put down two dunks while Connor Curnow, who had a team-high 17 points, came up with big buckets when Dillon needed to stop a run.
It was 15-10 in favor of the Eagles after the first quarter, but Dillon opened the second quarter on an 11-3 run. Brown and Graham kept Lewistown close and the game was tied at 27 at halftime.
Lewistown opened the second half on a 8-0 run, but Dillon finally got going from deep when a pair of Tyler Lagunas threes closed the gap, but Robinson and Maxx Ray had threes to match.
Dillon came back to tie it at 47 and Lagunas added another triple with under three minutes to go to give Dillon its first lead of the second half. But Robinson gave the Eagles a 55-54 lead with baseline jumper with just over a minute to go before Curnow, gave the Beavers the lead back with a go-ahead layup. With the final possession, Lewistown ran its time down and set up Graham's heroics.
Lewistown will play Butte Central in Saturday’s championship game at 6:30 p.m. Dillon falls to loser-out action against Polson at 9 a.m.
Butte Central 69, Glendive 53
Kyle Holter scored 20 points, Dougie Peoples added 18 and the Butte Central boys raced past Glendive 69-53 in the State A semifinals at Dahlberg Arena on Friday.
With the win, Butte Central advanced to the State A title game for the first time since being named co-champions in the COVID-disrupted 2020 tournament.
Peoples, who came into the game with 999 career points, and Holter each made their presence felt early, combining for 26 first-half points as the Maroons built a a 45-30 halftime lead. The Maroons stretched the lead to as large as 22 points in the second half, and slowed the pace late in the game to cruise to victory.
Glendive’s Michael Murphy paced the Red Devils with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Parker Buckley added 10.
The Maroons will meet Lewistown in the championship on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Glendive will play Hamilton in loser-out action Saturday at 9 a.m.
Friday loser out
Polson 74, Havre 58, loser-out
Hamilton 50, Laurel 46, loser-out