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Billings Senior girls topple No. 3 Billings West to end some impressive streaks for Golden Bears

Billings Senior girls topple No. 3 Billings West to end some impressive streaks for Golden Bears

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BILLINGS — First came Layla Baumann’s 3-point attempt from the corner, and when that bounced high off the rim into Kaycee Rider’s hands, it was her turn.

Her shot didn’t go in, either, and then the final buzzer sounded. All the while, visions of last year had to be bouncing through the minds of the Billings Senior Broncs.

It was last year on the same Senior gym floor when Billings West’s Laiten Lantis’ 3 at the buzzer evened the score in regulation, and Baumann’s shot from beyond the arc in overtime spurred the Golden Bears’ to victory.

This time, on Saturday, the bounces went the way of the Broncs. Senior upended third-ranked West 43-42, rallying from a six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and hand the Bears their first loss of the season.

Senior’s win also ended West’s 28-game winning streak dating back to last season, and a 31-game Eastern AA regular-season winning streak. The Bears last lost a conference game on Jan. 19, 2019.

“We just came together as a team, we just played together and it was so much fun,” said Broncs junior Allie Cummings. “All working together to finally get that dub. We haven’t won for a really long time against them. It was just a really fun experience all the way through the whole game because it was so close.”

Cummings, who made all three of her 3-pointers in the second half, scored 15 points for the Broncs, who ended an eight-game losing streak to the Bears. Brenna Linse added 11 points.

The game was tight most of the time, save for a stretch in the third quarter when the Bears seemed to have taken control. Kaitlyn Grossman’s steal and basket broke a 31-31 tie and started an 8-0 run for West, though a steal and layup by Lauren Cummings brought the Broncs back to within 39-33 just before the third-quarter buzzer sounded.

West (11-1) had a 42-38 lead with five minutes left in the game on a 3-pointer by Sydney Pierce, but the Bears never scored again.

Baumann, with 12 points, was the lone player in double figures for West, which will play the remainder of the season without leading scorer Kourtney Grossman, who had ACL surgery earlier this week.

“Senior did a good job of getting second-chance points and Allie had some timely shots, and you know, it was kind of the story of the game,” West coach Charlie Johnson said. “Probably the difference in the game was we just didn’t step up and make enough plays and Senior did.”

In Connor Silliker’s two seasons as coach, the Broncs have been in nine games that have been decided by four points or less or have gone into overtime. After a 2-4 mark in such games last season, the Broncs are 2-1 this year, including Saturday’s win.

The Broncs (6-5) also had a hand in holding Class AA’s top-rated offense to 20 points below their season average.

“The biggest thing what we talked about before the game was that we have to believe,” Silliker said. “If you’re going to go and do something special, you’ve got to believe that you’re going to do it first.

“It wasn’t perfect, and I told them I don’t need you to play a perfect game. But you need to play a perfect game with your effort and your teamwork and everything else in that respect. They did that above and beyond, and against a really good team.”

Email Mike Scherting at mike.scherting@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsSchert

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