Hardin takes on Billings Central

Famous Lefthand (52) and Hardin lost to Chrishon Dixon (3) and Billings Central in last year's State A title game. The Bulldogs and Rams have played each other in the previous two state title games.

Class A boys basketball

2018-19 top three: 1) Billings Central, 2) Hardin, 3) Butte Central

2019-20 storyline

Billings Central and Hardin have faced off in the previous two State A title games. Hardin won 47-43 in 2018, and Central won 62-44 in March. Other teams hope they can prevent a rubber match.

Hardin should be good again, with all-state players Famous Lefthand and Trae Hugs back for their senior seasons (classmate Cayden Redfield received an all-conference honorable mention).

The defending champion Rams graduated all-state players Chrishon Dixon and Sam Gray, plus all-conference second-teamer Seth Sasich and honorable mentions Joe Byorth and Cade Herriford.

Butte Central, which lost 79-73 to Hardin in the state semifinals, graduated three players, including leader Cade Holter. Back for the Maroons are key pieces such as Braden Harrington and Matt Simkins.

Fellow state semifinalist Hamilton lost five seniors, including fixtures Tanner Goligoski, Hunter Omlid and Camron Rothie. Contributors such as Carson Rostad and Trey Searle will try to replace their production.

Another Western A team, Frenchtown, went two-and-out at state but had just one senior (Jared Cole) on its roster.

Livingston was competitive in a first-round state tournament loss to Hamilton and a loser-out defeat to Butte Central. The Rangers return star guard Brendon Johnson, but Danner Purkett and Jack Waddell transferred to Laurel, and six players graduated.

One big number

32: Billings Central’s point differential in its last two games against Hardin (Central won 62-44 in the state title game and 65-51 for the Eastern A championship). The Rams went 2-3 in their previous five matchups with the Bulldogs and were outscored by 14 total points — Hardin’s most lopsided win in that span was 97-87 in triple overtime on Jan. 6, 2018.

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Email Victor Flores at victor.flores@406mtsports.com and follow him on Twitter at @VictorFlores_BG

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