BILLINGS — It took a moment for Teagan Mullowney to realize the implications of his running, buzzer-beating shot Friday afternoon.
But when the ball splashed through the hoop, it took no time for his Billings West teammates — and the Golden Bears’ entire student section — to form a massive dogpile on the Alterowitz Gym floor in celebration of a pulse-pounding victory.
It was Mullowney’s shot from roughly 35-feet as the horn sounded that lifted West over Bozeman 51-48 in overtime and sent the Bears into the championship game of the Eastern AA boys basketball tournament.
A semifinal game that saw several momentum swings and lead changes ended in dramatic fashion, thanks to Mullowney’s heroics.
“I was kind of shell-shocked at first,” Mullowney said afterward. “Then everyone got up from the pile and I got pulled out of there and I was like, ‘I just hit that.’ That was crazy.”
With the game tied 48-48 and just seconds left, Bozeman’s Carter Ash drove the lane and lofted a running shot that bounced off the right side of the rim. The ball was then tipped out to Mullowney near the top of the key, where he picked it up and began dribbling frantically the other way.
Mullowney shot it from somewhere between the half court line and West’s 3-point line.
“Neil (Daily) tipped it out to me and I just looked up at the clock,” Mullowney said. “I saw 3, and I was at about half court and I saw 2, and I decided to get one more dribble in before I shot it.
“I shot it and it felt pretty good off my hand.”
The game was tied 36-36 going into the fourth quarter. Bozeman’s Hudson Willett banked in a 3 from the top of the key to tie it 41-41 with a minute left, and the game went to overtime after West’s Josh Erbacher misfired on a long 3-point attempt before the buzzer to end regulation.
The teams went back and fourth in overtime. Ash made two free throws after hard foul (in which his head banged off the floor under the basket), and Erbacher hit both ends of bonus free throws to knot it 48-48 with 27 seconds left.
After Ash’s miss on Bozeman’s final possession, the stage was set for Mullowney.
“It’s tough to lose like that in overtime,” said Bozeman coach Wes Holmquist, whose team must now take a longer route to a state tournament berth.
“We wanted to get Carter off the dribble and try to make a play. He got a pretty decent look. Our hope was if we didn’t get a good look and miss the shot that we’d got another four minutes and see what happens. Unfortunately there was just a little too much time left.”
The victory was the 17th in a row for West (18-1).
The Hawks (11-9) dropped into a loser-out game Saturday at 9:30 p.m. against Great Falls CMR.
West’s Cade Tyson led all scorers with 16 points, all in the first half. Erbacher added 15, all in the second half.
Ash’s 15 points led the way for Bozeman. Willett made four 3-pointers and scored 12 points for the Hawks.
CMR 73, Belgrade 61
Keegan Barnes scored 17 points and Bryce Nelson added 14 as Great Falls CMR stayed alive with a 73-61 loser-out victory over Belgrade.
CMR (6-14) advanced to play in another loser-out contest Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
A night after making just one field goal in the first half of a first-round loss to crosstown rival Great Falls, the Rustlers shot 42% from the floor and hit 19 foul shots, including an 11-for-14 effort by Barnes.
The loss ended the season for Belgrade (2-18). It was the Panthers’ first season at the AA level after jumping up from Class A at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year. Ta’Veus Randle led all scorers with 22 points while shooting 20 for 22 from the free-throw line.
This story will be updated
Email Greg Rachac at Greg.Rachac@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @gregrachac