BILLINGS — It was the game most at the West High gym probably thought it would be. Second-ranked Billings West and No. 5 Billings Skyview entered play Thursday with a combined 18 straight wins, and in the days before the game Falcons coach Kevin Morales predicted “another West High-Skyview classic.”
And indeed it was, though the Golden Bears’ 72-66 overtime Eastern AA win came in a rather unorthodox way.
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:
• West led 44-30 with 5:20 to play and it was still a 10-point lead with nearly 4 ½ minutes left.
• Then came chaos with 3:42 to go. West’s Neil Daily was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim on a failed dunk attempt, and Golden Bears coach Kelly Darragh was handed his own technical shortly thereafter.
• After Skyview’s Cam Ketchum made all four free throws, the West bench was slapped with another T, resulting in Darragh’s ejection by rule (although the technical wasn’t on him) and Ketchum made two more free throws.
• Though West’s Josh Erbacher went 8 for 8 from the foul line down the stretch, the Falcons kept creeping closer with the help of some untimely Bears’ fouls. But Erbacher missed one of two free throws with 9.1 seconds left in regulation to leave the door open.
• Ketchum and the Falcons entered. Ketchum drove the lane, and his high-arcing layup dropped in just before the buzzer to send the game to overtime tied at 54-54.
* West’s Cade Tyson opened OT with six consecutive points and after a Skyview timeout, Erbacher added a basket for an 8-0 Bears’ run. That pretty much was that, even though the Bears made just 11 of 20 free throws in the extra four minutes.
No, consecutive win No. 12 did not come easily for the Bears (13-1, 8-0), who were assessed four technical fouls overall.
“Man, that one, it’s kind of all a blur right now,” said Tyson, who finished with a game-high 29 points. “I just remember there was like four minutes left in the fourth quarter and you think it’s all over. They just kept coming. Credit to them, man.”
Despite his key foul shot miss at the end of regulation, Erbacher made 15 of 17 free throws overall and finished with 23 points. Daily had 11 points before he was ejected because of his second technical — he was called for taunting earlier in the game.
West coach Kelly Darragh declined to address the technicals in his postgame comments, instead focusing on other aspects of the game.
“It ended up closer than it needed to be,” he said. “For us to withstand four technical fouls and still get a win is pretty impressive. The boys played hard. We made some mistakes and stuff like that at the end, but they stepped up when they needed to.”
Ketchum scored 28 points for the Falcons (9-5, 5-2), going 20 of 22 from the free-throw line. Abe Seybert added 10 points for the Falcons, who were going for their eighth straight win. Instead, they’ll try to start a new streak next weekend in Great Falls.
“It was a really amped up game and emotions were running high,” Skyview coach Kevin Morales said. “Once we got into overtime I thought we had a good shot at it, but we just didn’t have good possessions coming out of overtime and they attacked on their possessions.
“They jump up six in overtime and that’s hard to bounce back from. We had the energy and then I felt it slipped away immediately into overtime.”
Because of their two technical fouls, Daily and Darragh will have to sit out West’s home game Feb. 20 against Belgrade, according to Darragh.