HAMILTON – Confusion reigned.
Butte Central girls’ basketball coach Meg Murphy called time out with 23.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s State Class A Tournament game at Hamilton High School.
Emily St. John tied the score at 47 moments earlier, and the Maroons had just gotten the ball back on a turnover.
Central coach Meg Murphy tried to set up a play for the Maroons to run, one that would hopefully lead to a game-winning basket.
“We called for a play that we always use but the players were asking, ‘Where I do I go, where do I go?’” Murphy said.
The confusion forced Murphy to call a second timeout.
It worked. St. John drove to the basket for a layup, becoming the center of attention for the Columbia Falls defenders. The ball didn’t go in but Sierra Pica stood on the other side of the basket, where she gobbled up the rebound and laid the ball in with 5.4 seconds left in the game.
Pica’s basket turned out to be the difference in the Maroons' 49-47 win over the Wildcats.
Columbia Falls’ Ciera Finberg had just enough time to launch a desperation shot from midcourt. She dropped to her knees as she saw the shot miss its mark.
The final buzzer set off a celebration among the Butte Central faithful who made the trip to Hamilton High, and it sent the Maroons into today’s semifinal game against Billings Central.