BILLINGS — The Billings Central girls basketball team continued to back up its No. 1 406mtsports.com Class A ranking with a 59-28 win over Glendive on Saturday.
The Eastern A game was Central’s first in its home gym this season, but it was more of the same for the Rams (6-0). Like the night prior, they dominated the middle two quarters en route to a blowout.
“Our defense has been really good these past two games,” said Central senior Isabelle Erickson.
Glendive (3-2) cut its deficit to 12-10 in the waning seconds of the first quarter on a jump shot from senior Madison Wahl. The Rams promptly raced down the court and got the ball to Solei Elletson, who drained a left wing 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The shot started a 14-0 run for Central. Glendive senior Jillian Litwiller hit a 3 midway through the second quarter, but the Red Devils didn’t score again until the 4:50 mark of the third. Runs of 16-0 and 30-3 put the Rams up 42-13.
“It happens really, really fast,” said Glendive coach Kayla Rivas. “We did have glimpses of really good basketball, but they are so fast and they are so difficult to defend because they stretch you out so far with fantastic shooting.”
Elletson led all players with 16 points, Erickson had 13 and Mya Hansen added 12. Litwiller led Glendive with 10 points.
“They just play so fast. You try to match that, and that’s not our game,” Rivas said. “We continue to rush things, take quick shots, don’t have rebounders, and then we’re out of position defensively.”
On Friday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, Central trailed 10-9 to Laurel early in the second quarter. The Rams then went on a 21-0 run, outscoring their rival 12-0 in the third quarter.
“I think they get a little frazzled,” Erickson said of her team’s opponents. “Last night, we just stopped them on everything they tried to do. They couldn’t buy a bucket, and we just knew what they were going to do the next play, so they really didn’t have many options. We got in their head a little bit on our defense.”
Central graduated all-state post Olivia Moten-Schell from last year’s co-state championship team but returned Hansen (an all-stater and a Montana Lady Griz commit) and all-conference selections Elletson, Erickson and Maria Stewart. Erickson is one of four seniors on the roster, while Hansen, Elletson and Stewart are juniors.
The Rams’ bench is deep, too, and while Moten-Schell left a big hole, this year’s team has looked as good, if not better, than last season’s.
Central has scored 52.3 points per game and allowed 29.2 so far this season.
“A lot of our communication is so much better, and everyone’s learning how to defend both in the post and outside more this year because we are shorter,” Erickson said. “The guards have to learn how to guard in the post, and some of the posts have to guard out on the wings, so it’s a lot of hustle and a lot of using our speed and communication.”