Custer County teams prepped for playoffs

The brackets are set and the Custer County District High School (CCDHA) Cowboys and Cowgirls are set to play Eastern/Central A Divisional basketball Wednesday, with both teams tipping off in the playoffs against the Havre High School Blue Ponies.

The Cowboys and Cowgirls are battling teams from both the Central and the Eastern A conference, with four state A playoff berths on the line.

The Cowboys are in must-win mode as they take on the 2-6 Blue Ponies. Havre finished last in the Central A conference, but one of their four nonconference victories came at the expense of the Cowboys.

The Cowboys finished the regular season 3-7 in the Eastern A and 4-14 overall, and their 1:30 p.m. play-in game at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings leaves just two choices — win, or go home.

“The only game that matters right now is Havre, and they are solid,” said Cowboys head coach Houston Finn. “They have some guys who can score and they play solid team basketball.”

The tournament marks the first year the play-in games are on a neutral court.

On a court that isn’t located inside CCDHS, Cowboys’ leading scorer Gabe Gundlach averages just over 15 ppg, while senior Tyler Burk is just above that with a 16 ppg average.

Gundlach’s scored at least 20 ppg in seven games, and Burk reached that mark five times, including 33 points at home against St. Labre.

In the boys’ bracket, Park (Livingston) takes on Dawson County in the first play-in game. The winner of that contest will face the winner of the Cowboys/Blue Ponies matchup on Thursday at noon.

“It’s pretty simple for us,” Finn said. “Best effort every possession and we will be in good shape.”

The Cowgirls (5-5, 11-7) tip off against the Lady Blue Ponies on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Havre made quick work of the Central A, winning the conference with an 8-0 record. They are 13-5 overall.  

The winner of the Cowgirls/Havre game heads directly into the Friday semifinal at 3:30 p.m., where they’ll face the winner of the Laurel/Browning matchup.

Cowgirl junior post player Kaelei Koenig, Custer’s leading scorer, averages 15.4 ppg in away games, while sophomore Kyra Oakland averages just over 11 points.

Koenig’s highest-scoring game game came at the beginning of the year, when she threw down 28 at Sidney.

Oakland posted 27 points against Dawson County.

The Cowgirls average 55 ppg. They boast a 5-4 road record.