Loco take out Rams to win conference, head to Divisionals as #1 seed

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Laurel Senior Colter Bales takes a pull–up jumper in the first half of the Laurel/Billings Central game last Thursday. Bales made a monster 3–point play with nine seconds left in the game to seal the 42–40 Loco victory. Laurel is the #1 seed in the Divisional tournament at MetraPark in Billings, which started yesterday. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Laurel Senior Colter Bales takes a pull–up jumper in the first half of the Laurel/Billings Central game last Thursday. Bales made a monster 3–point play with nine seconds left in the game to seal the 42–40 Loco victory. Laurel is the #1 seed in the Divisional tournament at MetraPark in Billings, which started yesterday. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Last Thursday the Locos overcame a slow start to hold off visiting Billings Central in an intense 42–40 victory to complete a sweep of the Rams on the season (they beat BC on the road Jan. 15, 46–40).

After a cold start that saw them down 0–6, they went on a 12–2 run to take the lead and went into the half up six, 18–12.

In the third quarter they took a 29–21 lead on a Wylee Schnetter steal and layup, forcing BC to call timeout. The Rams scored six quick points to pull within two then Dalton Boehler hit a deep three to get the lead back to five going in the final quarter.

The lead for Laurel was never more than three for the rest of the game after the four minute mark when things got heated on the court after a no–call on a turnover. The Central coach walked toward the Laurel bench and yelled at Coach Tony Trudnowski which brought the crowd to their feet with Laurel up 38–35 with 4:00 left.

The Locos had chances to put the game out of reach on free throws but struggled at the line, going 1–6 during a two minute stretch.

Central missed their own opportunities as well, bricking two shots from the charity stripe with 51 seconds left and the game tied at 39.

With 12 seconds left senior Colter Bales drove the lane in traffic and hit a huge shot and one to give the Locos the 42–39 lead with 9.1 seconds left.

After a Central timeout senior Jace McNeil made a mistake and fouled a Central player on a three point shot, giving him three free throws. He made the first and missed the second. The third was missed but Laurel went out of bounds on the rebound giving the Rams the ball back with 3.5 seconds left and the score at 42–40.

Central missed a wild three and the clock ran out giving Laurel the win. The student section emptied onto the court and the celebration began.

Going into Divisionals, the Locos 10–3 (5–0) are ranked #3 in the State behind Dillon (14–0) and Polson (13–1). Billings Central (10–3) and Glendive (10–5) round out the top–5. They are the #1 seed in the SE at MetraPark this week where they faced #4 Miles City last night at 6 p.m.

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