BOZEMAN- Behind a stellar second-half shooting performance, the Dillon Beavers ended Butte Central's chances to State A boys basketball repeat Friday night with a 62-53 win in the semifinal round at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
Meanwhile, unbeaten Lewistown, the favorite in Class A all year, has a chance to make amends for last year's title-game loss to the Maroons following a 61-35 semifinal win over Frenchtown.
Dillon 62, Butte Central 53
After missing last year's State A tournament, the Dillon Beavers are returning to the title game for a second time in three years. Dillon trailed Butte Central by two points to end the first half, but behind an 11-for-20 shooting (55%) performance in the final two frames, the Beavers advanced to Saturday's title game with a 62-53 victory.
The Beavers jumped out in front early with an 8-2 run and led for most of the first half, but a Jack Keeley 3-pointer with five minutes remaining tied the game at 20. Central's Eric Loos scored the go-ahead floater to lead 22-20 at the half.
Dillon's success on the 3-point line (5 for 10) in the final two frames built as much as a 14-point cushion for the Beavers to ultimately punching their ticket to the championship game. The Beavers were paced by Caden Hansen who scored a team-high 15 points, while Eli Nourse followed with 13.
Centrals' Dougie Peoples led all scorers with 21 points, while Kyle Holter recorded a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds).
Lewistown 61, Frenchtown 35
The Eagles are only one win away from closing out the 2022-23 season with a perfect stamp. Lewistown (23-0) took care of business in Friday's semifinal by routing Frenchtown in a 26-point victory, 61-35.
Eagles senior guard Royce Robinson finished with a game-high 30 points on 13-for-25 shooting while also recording nine rebounds. The Eagles took an early grip by closing out the first frame with a 10-0 run to lead 22-8.
They were able to extend their run by as much as 15 points, but Frenchtown's Kellen Klimpel answered with a 3-pointer at the six-minute mark to cut Lewistown's lead to 16. However, the Golden Eagles entered intermission with all the momentum after a buzzer-beater fadeaway jumper by Royce Robinson to lead 38-15 at the half.
Behind Robinson's 30 points, Fischer Brown also added 24 points. The two accounted for 54 of Lewistown's 61 points. Connor Michaud led Frenchtown with 15 points.
Lewistown not only has a second chance to win a championship after losing to a Butte Central buzzer-beater last year, but it also has a chance to win its first state title since 1979.