Class A boys basketball
2018-19 top three: 1) Billings Central, 2) Hardin, 3) Butte Central
Hardin should be good again, with all-state players Famous Lefthand and Trae Hugs back for their senior seasons (classmate Cayden Redfield received an all-conference honorable mention).
The defending champion Rams graduated all-state players Chrishon Dixon and Sam Gray, plus all-conference second-teamer Seth Sasich and honorable mentions Joe Byorth and Cade Herriford.
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Butte Central, which lost 79-73 to Hardin in the state semifinals, graduated three players, including leader Cade Holter. Back for the Maroons are key pieces such as Braden Harrington and Matt Simkins.
Fellow state semifinalist Hamilton lost five seniors, including fixtures Tanner Goligoski, Hunter Omlid and Camron Rothie. Contributors such as Carson Rostad and Trey Searle will try to replace their production.
Another Western A team, Frenchtown, went two-and-out at state but had just one senior (Jared Cole) on its roster.
Livingston was competitive in a first-round state tournament loss to Hamilton and a loser-out defeat to Butte Central. The Rangers return star guard Brendon Johnson, but Danner Purkett and Jack Waddell transferred to Laurel, and six players graduated.
One big number
32: Billings Central’s point differential in its last two games against Hardin (Central won 62-44 in the state title game and 65-51 for the Eastern A championship). The Rams went 2-3 in their previous five matchups with the Bulldogs and were outscored by 14 total points — Hardin’s most lopsided win in that span was 97-87 in triple overtime on Jan. 6, 2018.