BILLINGS -- The Lodge Grass Indians gave the Joliet J-Hawks a big dose of Ethan Dust in the first half, and it wasn’t enough. So the Indians found their running game, got others involved, and eventually gained their way into the Southern B Divisional semifinals.
Lodge Grass beat Joliet 69-54 Thursday in the final boys game of the evening at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark behind a strong third quarter.
There were nine ties and 11 changes in the first half. But after Joliet’s Rylan Olson hit a 3-pointer for a 38-37 advantage midway through the third, the J-Hawks never saw the lead again.
Dust ignited a charge that saw six Lodge Grass players contribute to a 17-0 run, and the Indians had a 54-38 lead shortly after the fourth quarter began. Joliet led 31-29 at halftime despite 16 points and 10 rebounds from Dust.
“It was good to see our boys keep hitting, hitting, hitting,” Lodge Grass coach Gordon Real Bird Jr. said, also giving credit to his team’s bench. “Joliet came back a little bit, but then we beat them down the floor a couple times and that just killed them.”
Dust finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds. Josh Stewart added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Mylon Blacksmith finished with 11 points for the Indians, who will play Big Timber at 5 p.m. Friday.
Taylor Rowlison led Joliet with 25 points. Rylan Olson contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds and Brett Robinson also had 12 points. Joliet plays St. Labre in a 10:30 a.m. loser-out game Friday.
Big Timber 71, St. Labre 42
The Big Timber Herders would like to consider themselves a dangerous team. They didn't give much reason to disagree with that in a 71-42 first-round win over St. Labre.
Blake Finn, hitting on drives and outside shots, and post player Ethan Bullock each scored 16 points to lead the Herders. Big Timber is building some momentum after winning last week's 5B District championship, which followed two consecutive losses to end the regular season.
"Practices have gotten a little more intense and we've got a lot more focus," said Big Timber guard Kell Schwers, who hit two 3-pointers and contributed nine points and four of the team's 15 assists. "And we're not taking any teams lightly."
Big Timber won last week's title over Three Forks, a team the Herders had lost to twice before by 14 and 15 points. And even though their current three-game winning streak only ties a team-best, the Herders head into Friday's semifinals on a high note.
"Were young, so this is a real good mark for these guys," said Big Timber coach Dan Smart, who starts all juniors. "Hopefully, we can keep it up. We played well."
Ezra Bearcrane hit five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points for St. Labre.
Roundup 60, Manhattan 43
Roundup coach Rick Griffith says his team isn't an offensive juggernaut. The Panthers looked like one in a 60-43 first-round win over Manhattan 60-43.
Three players scored in double digits, led by Cash Cota and Jayce Griffith, who had 16 points apiece. Kelson Eiselein added 11 points to help the Panthers win their 12th game in a row and improve to 19-1.
"It was a great way to start the tournament," Rick Griffith said. "We've got great senior leadership, and our offense really allows a lot of freedom and movement for our players. The seniors have been running it since they were in sixth-grade, so they get it and they're unselfish. They just find people."
Roundup led by 12 late in the first quarter and that's where it pretty much stayed. Now the Panthers turn their attention to Three Forks, which started the tournament with a win over Colstrip. Roundup and Three Forks play at 3 p.m. on Friday in the semifinals.
"We'll have our work cut out for us," Griffith said. "We'll have to do things really well defensively, but as you saw today, we're not afraid to pick people up full-court and defend them for 32 minutes and get after them."
Jacob Dyk scored 14 points to lead Manhattan, which also received 12 points from Cal Holgate. The Tigers will play Colstrip at 9 a.m. Friday in a loser-out game.
Three Forks 60, Colstrip 42
Basketball this time of year is all about bouncing back.
Three Forks did that to open the tournament. Colstrip will have to do that to stick around.
Colter Miller scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Payden Linn added 17 points and nine rebounds to help the Wolves beat previously undefeated Colstrip 60-42 in the tourney's first game.
Colstrip was down two starters -- Payton Means was serving a one-game suspension for getting two technical fouls in the 3B championship game, and Joel McRae is nursing an ankle injury -- but that didn't take away from the Wolves' determination.
After a loss to Big Timber in the 5B title game last week, the Wolves wanted this.
"We needed to win one," Three Forks coach Terry Hauser said. "We came out so scared, so tense. We've never played in a stadium like this."
Hauser said this is Three Forks' first divisional appearance since 2013. Miller, who nearly had his double-double by halftime, echoed his coach.
"We definitely came together that second half," said Miller, whose team trailed 31-26 at the break. "We definitely had tournament jitters the first half."
Colstrip, which saw further attrition in the second half when Kobee BigBack and Isaiah Williams fouled out, was led by BigBack's nine points. Rivers Anderson added eight for the Colts (19-1).