Daniel Meyer figured Billings Senior was coming after him. And the Broncs did.
But it didn’t matter.
Billings Central’s 6-foot-7 center tied a career high with 31 points and pulled down 19 rebounds Thursday night to lead the Rams to a 57-46 boys basketball win over Senior at the Nelles Center.
The senior big man did most of his damage in the first half, tallying 21 points and 14 rebounds to help Central to a 36-24 lead at intermission.
“He’s one of the best players in the state … maybe the best,” said Senior coach Jim Wilsey. “I told our kids before the game we had to surround him and do whatever it takes to slow him down. And we did that, but it didn’t matter.
“He was unstoppable. He was the difference in the game, without a doubt.”
Meyer stands four inches taller than Senior’s tallest player, so the Rams’ game plan was simple.
“We wanted to take advantage of our size and get the ball inside to me and Dylan (Hanser), and then kick it out for some open shots,” said Meyer. “Our guys did a great job of getting the ball in to us early in the game and helped us get a lead.”
Of Central’s 16 field goals, just one — a first-half 3-pointer by Connor Cerkovnik — came outside the paint. And nearly all of Meyer’s 10 baskets came with two or three Senior defenders on him, but he was unfazed.
“As a big man, you gotta be ready to be double- and triple-teamed,” said Meyer. “We work on that a lot in practice. Coach (Jim ) Stergar kind of lets the other guys go at me and Dylan pretty good in practice, so we’re used to it.”
Cerkovnik added 11 points for Central (3-2), and no other Ram scored more than three points. Jacob Stanton finished with three points, five rebounds and six assists.
In addition to Meyer’s monster effort, Stergar was impressed with the Rams’ defensive effort.
“Our defense, especially on the 3-point line, was the key,” he said. “We know what kind of a shooting team Senior is, and we got out there and got after them. I take my hat off to Jacob Stanton and Dylan Hanser for getting out there on Tad Rose and Skyler Scheetz … those kids are outstanding shooters and we did a great job on them.
“I thought we handled their defensive pressure pretty well, too. We took care of the ball for the most part and played under control.”
Joe Zimmer and Skyler Scheetz scored 12 points each for Senior (2-3), and Zimmer also pulled down seven rebounds.
“I loved our kids’ effort … we didn’t stop fighting until the final buzzer,” said Wilsey. “Central is an outstanding team and they play really well on their home court. We did some good things tonight that we can learn from. We need to keep working hard and keep getting better, and I know we will.”
Central faces another Class AA opponent tonight, traveling to the West High gym for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Senior hosts Bozeman at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in its final game before the holiday break.