Billings West and Billings Skyview entered Friday’s game as the last two unbeaten teams in Class AA boys basketball.
Just minutes after tip-off, it was clear which team would remain unbeaten.
West’s suffocating man-to-man defense held Skyview to just 28 points in the first three quarters as the Golden Bears roared to a 69-56 win in front of a capacity crowd of 2,500-plus at the West gym.
“It didn’t take very long to find out who the No. 1 team in the state is,” said Skyview coach Toby Hill. “West is really good. (Danny) Robison and (Brady) Gustafson are hard to keep off the glass, and their guards do what they need to do.
“We didn’t play well at all in the first three quarters, but a lot of that was West forcing us to do things we didn’t want to do.”
Robison had 24 points and 12 rebounds to lead West, which is now 6-0 overall. The game was the Eastern AA conference opener for the Golden Bears.
Skyview, which scored half of its points (28) in the fourth quarter, is now 6-1 overall and 1-1 in league play.
West led 16-5 after one quarter, 33-15 at halftime and 53-28 after three quarters.
Back-to-back baskets in the post by Pat Barnett gave West its biggest lead at 27 points (50-23) with 1:20 left in the third.
“I was really pleased with our defense and rebounding in the first three quarters, especially the first half,” said West coach Doug Robison. “We lost our man a few too many times in the fourth quarter and gave them some open looks, but the Skyview kids deserve some credit for that, too. They competed hard and they made the game close at the end.”
Brandon McIver hit three 3-pointers — including West’s first two baskets of the game — and finished with 16 points for the Golden Bears. Andrew Campbell added 10, Pat Barnett eight and Gustafson seven for West.
Campbell also drew the assignment of guarding Skyview standout Daine Muller for much of the night, and held the 6-foot-3 junior guard to four field goals and 13 points.
“Andrew did a great job on Daine,” said Danny Robison. “We didn’t use our full-court press that much tonight. We pretty much stayed with man-to-man, and Andrew did a great job.”
Campbell said the cross-town rivalry game was a “perfect way” to get back into action after the holiday break. West had not played since Dec. 22.
“It was a long break, and we knew this would be a tough game with a packed crowd,” said the 6-5 junior. “It was a great environment ... these kind of games are fun to play.”
Hill was pleased with the Falcons’ effort in the fourth quarter, in which Skyview outscored West 28-16.
“We have a group of guys that are not going to quit,” he said. “But the bottom line is we didn’t get it done in the first three quarters. We’ve got some things to clean up, and we’ll get back to work and do that.”
Matt Fuhrman and Kooper Kidgell added nine points each for Skyview and Taylor Beld added seven.
West hosts Laurel tonight at 7:30 p.m., while Skyview’s next action is Tuesday night at Miles City.
NOTES: West now leads the overall series with Skyview 49-9, including 29-2 at West. The Falcons’ last win at West came in 2002. ... Robison is now 32-5 against Skyview. ... The two teams meet again in three weeks, on Thursday, Jan. 26 at Skyview.