Havre, Browning girls into Class A state semis

bishcoff for blog

BUTTE – The Browning girls put together the first big upset of the Class A state tournament with a 57-41 domination of defending state runner-up Butte Central Thursday.

The Indians (12-10) clearly hit their stride at the right time. First-year girls’ coach Ray Augare (he coached the Browning boys for years) and his players experienced a minor setback last week in the divisional final to Havre, but bounced back with two straight wins and are in the state semis.

Butte Central led 13-9 after one quarter, but the Indians used a 17-2 burst in the second quarter to extend the lead to 11 at halftime and the Maroons never really threatened in the second half.

“Our schedule over the year really helped us out I thought,” Augare said. “We had a lot of really tough games and we learned how to handle stuff like that.”

Marti Eagle Feathers had a transcendent performance with 22 points and five assists as Browning’s fast tempo clearly exhausted the depleted Maroons, who lost leading scorer and second-leading rebounder Danee Leary to a concussion last weekend.

“You can make all the excuses in the world, but we had four kids sick Monday and one – your leading scorer – out, so I think that took a toll on getting up and down the floor a lot,” Butte Central coach Meg Murphy said.

Augare recognized Leary’s importance the first time the teams faced one another this season, a 72-52 BC win in December.

“She killed us,” Augare said. “She’s a super player. It’s too bad something like that happens, especially at this time of year… Any time you lose that person it’s going to hurt you.”

The Indians out-rebounded BC and Leary’s absence may have accounted for the discrepancy. But Browning was focused Thursday, no question about it.

“It could have made a difference,” Eagle Feathers said, “but either way we came here and wanted to win and it would have given us a little more motivation to come out harder.

Meanwhile Havre also advanced to the semifinals with a 40-36 win over Stevensville in the late game, so we could conceivably have an All-Central A final Saturday. But there are two big tests yet ahead for both teams.

University of Montana recruit and 2012 Tribune Super-State performer Alycia Sims scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds – both game highs – and scored the game’s final two points at the buzzer.

“They had a nice game plan at the end to try to throw it in to her to get baskets which she did,” Havre coach Dustin Kraske said. “She delivered for them. She’s a very fine basketball player.”

The Blue Ponies counted on stellar post defense from Neya Bischoff, who guarded Sims for much of the night, and a half-court trap that forced 24 Yellowjackets turnovers. Those will be keys again if Havre is going to top Laurel on Friday.

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