DOGS LOOK TO SHOCK ELECTRIC CITY

Hardin aims for state after taking second in divisionals
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Photo by Jim Eshleman

Andrew House, forward and center for the Bulldogs, is double-teamed by Billings Central Rams players as he attempts a shot.

Photo by Jim Eshleman

Hardin guard Famous Left Hand aims a shot toward the basket in Saturday’s division championship game against Billings Central. Two days earlier, Left Hand scored his 1,000th game point

Photo by Jim Eshleman

Taking second place in the Class A divisional basketball tournament, Hardin’s Bulldogs line up for a photo. Pictured from the left: Assistant Coach Justin Hugs, Trae Hugs, Jaxon McCormick, Braven Glenn, Hance Three Irons, Gabe Passes, Ryan Old Crow, Peyton Good Luck, Kidd Little Light, Eric Woods, Famous Left Hand, Teivon Ramos, Keyshawn Rogers, Cayden Redfield, Norman Dawes, Head Coach Andrew Roundface, managers Shaunita Nomee and Casey Turns Plenty, and Assistant Coach Mike Don’t Mix.

Hardin’s Bulldog basketball team placed second in Class A divisionals following a rise up the tournament brackets that began Wednesday, Feb. 20 and only was halted by a 51-65 defeat Saturday from Billings Central’s Rams.

This is the third time in the 2018-19 season that the Bulldogs and Rams have clashed at MetraPark in Billings. On Jan. 5, Billings Central downed Hardin in the Bulldogs’ first loss of the season. On Feb. 2, the Bulldogs returned the favor and gained Central’s No. 1 ranking in Class A. Now, the teams enter the state Class A tournament – scheduled March 7-9 in Great Falls, also known as the Electric City. Hardin is ranked second in the east and Central first.

As with last year, when Hardin won state, the Bulldogs’ only losses have come from Central.

Competition was fierce in the division championship and Hardin suffered injuries during the clash – often high-scoring starter Trae Hugs, in particular, was on the bench in crutches. While injuries presented a challenge, Hardin Athletic Director Mike Erickson said, they also offered an opportunity for other players to step up. According to him, the team got some good playing time off the bench.

Hardin’s Famous Left Hand, who topped the 1,000-point level on Feb. 20 in a matchup with Glendive, was the top shooter for Hardin against Central with 19 points. He was followed by a tie score-wise between Cayden Redfield and Peyton Good Luck at seven points each.

Aside from the Central game, Hardin knocked out Glendive 90-50 and Livingston 53-41 in a surprisingly hard-fought semifinal game on Friday.

Starting Thursday, March 7, the Bulldogs will begin state in the Four Seasons Arena by facing the Browning Indians at 1:30 p.m. As with Left Hand, Browning has its own 1,000-pointer, Riley Spoonhunter.

Browning and Hardin haven’t faced each other for about two years, Erickson said, adding that – due to the high fanbase for both teams – tickets for Bulldog-Indian matchups often are sold out a week in advance. Last time they went up against each other, he continued, some fans were denied access because the arena already was at full capacity.

Though, as with last year, the state championship may boil down to another championship game between the Bulldogs and Rams, Erickson said Hardin must not look past its current opponents.

“They’re going to have to play close to perfect basketball the higher they go,” he said.

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