With seven seconds remaining, Billings Senior’s Kola Bad Bear made what looked like the tying score while being fouled.
The foul was called before the shot, which cancelled the score. The ensuing free throws missed and Billings West sealed a 41-38 Eastern AA girls basketball tournament championship Saturday at Butte High.
Trailing 36-29 heading to the fourth, the Broncs went on a 9-3 run, capped by a Bad Bear and-one with 59 seconds left to play.
West’s Shayla Montague hit one of two free throws to extend the lead to 40-38, and after Bad Bear’s late shot was called off, Willa Albrecht hit one of two free throws for West. Senior had three seconds to get up court for a potential game-tying three, but the shot was blocked as the Bears held on for their tournament title.
“Senior is a good team and you saw arguably two of the best teams in the state going at it,” Bears coach Charlie Johnson said. “This game was a game of runs: they made a good run, we made a great run … we didn’t play a clean game but we made plays at the end and that’s what got us a victory.”
The Broncs' early run had them up 10-5 through one quarter. West scored 20 in the second frame for a 25-18 halftime lead.
Ambreya Windy Boy led Billings West with 12 points. Ellie Ostermiller had nine points for Senior, and Bad Bear had eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.
West’s size helped to mitigate Bad Bear, a Montana State commit, with the defense collapsing on her in the paint throughout.
“You can’t stop a player like Kola,” Johnson said. “You can only hope to contain her, and I thought we did that.”
Billings West, the tournament’s top seed, got to the championship game with a win over Bozeman Friday night.
Both teams advance to next week’s Class AA state tournament.