WORDEN — Makenzie Wasson had only one thought as she stepped to the free throw line with four seconds remaining in the game.
Her Harlowton-Ryegate team had gone scoreless for four minutes at the end of the fourth quarter, allowing familiar foe Broadview-Lavina to pull within 38-37 on a 3-pointer by Lexi Payne and two free throws by Krista Schott.
As Wasson took the ball, she went to the place that has motivated the Lady Engineers this season.
“Do it for Dusty,” Wasson said to herself of teammate Dusty Taber, who died in a car wreck earlier in the season.
She calmly made two throws to clinch Harlowton-Ryegate’s emotional 40-37 victory Saturday night for the District 6C championship at the Huntley Project gymnasium.
It is the Lady Engineers' sixth straight 6C title and eighth consecutive district titles overall, winning two 5C crowns previously.
Earlier in the evening, Broadview-Lavina rode big games from Seth Christiaens and Taylor Bienvenue to hold off Park City 49-47 in the boys championship.
Christiaens finished with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Bienvenue added a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“It’s a big deal,” said Bienvenue of the Pirates winning the 6C after taking second a year ago. “This was the championship, everybody had to step up their effort.”
The top four teams from the 6C advance to the Southern C Divisionals. The boys play this weekend in Laurel, while the girls play in two weeks at Miles City.
Harlowton-Ryegate girls 40, Broadview-Lavina 37
The Engineers’ defense did not allow a field goal in the first quarter and Broadview-Lavina had more points from the free throw line (seven) than the field (six) at halftime.
Harlowton-Ryegate led 21-13 after two quarters as the Pirates shot 2 of 17 from the field.
“Defense is our focus every day in practice,” said Wasson. “Harlo’s got a reputation for defense. We talk well on defense and our front people do a good job of disrupting teams.”
The Engineers led by as many 11 at 30-19 after a Kayla McCarthy basket. But Broadview-Lavina countered with an 8-2 run to get within 34-40 by the end of the third quarter.
“We didn’t play as fast on defense as we needed,” said Engineers coach and Makenzie's father, Gregg Wasson. “They were beating us to spots and hitting open shots.”
“Honestly, we know each other so well,” added Makenzie Wasson. “They’re good 3-point shooters and with Abby (Bymaster) inside, it gives them a great dynamic.
“We just had to handle the pressure.
Kinsey Schwehrs' two free throws gave the Engineers a 38-32 lead with 4:14 remaining. They would not score again until Wasson’s free throws.
“She’s been this situation before,” said Gregg Wasson, referring to Makenzie going 6 for 6 from the free throw line last year in a win over Broadview-Lavina. “She can handle the pressure.”
Kinsey Schwehrs paced Harlowton-Ryegate with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman Krista Schott scored seven of the Pirates' last 10 points and finished with 16. All three of Broadview-Lavina’s losses this season have been to the Engineers.
Broadview-Lavina boys 49, Park City 47
The 6-foot-10 Christiaens had a relatively quiet first half with just four points. That all changed in the second half.
He delivered 14 points in the third quarter. The junior missed his first shot and made his next six, helping Broadview pull even 35-35 and take the momentum going into the fourth quarter.
“He’s 6-10. It’s mismatch. We had to take advantage of that,” said Broadview-Lavina coach Dan Bymaster, whose team trailed 23-19 at halftime.
There were seven lead changes and seven ties before Bienvenue scored five straight points in the fourth quarter to put the Pirates up for good, 44-41. The athletic junior scored on a put-back, free throw and sharp move to the basket.
“When Seth gets going, everybody gets going,” Bienvenue said. “Park City is a very good defensive team. It’s hard to get an offense going against them. We like to push the ball and we didn’t do it as much as we’d like.”
Broadview-Lavina shot just 19 of 49 from the field.
“We’ve got a lot of good players who can shoot the ball,” said Bymaster. “Park City plays hard on defense. We’re used to easier baskets and they took that away.
“These kids believed in themselves.”
Mason Moe led the Panthers with 14 points, while Grant McNeil added 12 on four 3-pointers.
“This was good for us,” said Bymaster, whose teams have become regulars at the divisional tournament. “We haven’t had a lot of close games this year. This will help us mentally when we get into those situations at the divisional tournament.”