The top-seeded Wildkats had to settle for second place at the Northwest A District Tournament in Ronan over the weekend as they defeated the host team in the semifinal Friday before falling to second seed Browning in the championship game Saturday.
The Kats looked dominant in Friday’s semifinal as they blew past Ronan, downing the Maidens 50-18. Led by Hannah Gedlaman’s 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals, the Wildkats used defense to earn at trip to the championship game, turning numerous Ronan turnovers into easy points. The Kats held Ronan’s Micalann McCrea to just 2 points in the contest, more than 14 points below her season average.
“I thought our defense played very well. We held their leading scorer to just two free throws and set the tone early in this game,” head coach Cary Finberg said. “Still, we seemed a bit nervous at the start, but we were able to settle in and take control of the game quickly.”
The Kats led 24-10 at the half and outscored Ronan 26-8 in the second half to pick up a 32-point win.
Along with Gedlaman’s strong performance, Ryley Kehr added 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals and Trista Cowan had eight points, 12 rebounds and three assists.
Poor free throw shooting and defensive miscues were too much for the Kats to overcome in the championship game as they fell to Browning, 61-50.
The Kats converted only five times on their 22 trips to the foul line in the contest while the Browning offense was on a roll, scoring on 13 of 14 possessions at one point in the second half.
“I have to give them credit, they are a good team, but we could not figure out why we were making so many defensive mistakes,” Finberg said. “We were out of position a lot of the time, which is very uncharacteristic of this team. When we made mistakes, they made us pay.”
Despite their troubles, the Kats kept the game close for three quarters. Dani Douglas torched the Lady Indian defense for nine points in the opening quarter, knocking down a trio of three-point shots as the teams fought to an 11-11 tie.
Browning took a slim 31-27 lead into halftime, but the Kats cut the lead to 35-34 on a free throw by Cowan midway through the third quarter. The Kats continued to stay close and trailed by only two going into the fourth quarter, where the Lady Indians outscored Columbia Falls 15-6 to pull away for the win.
Douglas scored 15 to lead the Kats in the loss while Gedlaman added 10 points and 13 rebounds. Cowan finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Browning 11 20 15 15 — 61
Columbia Falls 11 16 17 6 — 50
BROWNING — Candace Stillsmoking 4, Walker Running Crane 3, Danaya Polk 3, Taylor Jordan 7, Veronica Reed 2, Ronnal Jordan 16, Dulci Skunkcap 12, Tamika Guardipee 14.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Dani Douglas 15, Lakia Hill 3, Hannah Gedlaman 10, Ryley Kehr 8, Madysen Hoerner 2, Trista Cowan 12.
Ronan 5 5 4 4 — 18
Columbia Falls 9 15 9 17 — 50
RONAN — Micalann McCrea 2, Tianna Ulutoa 5, Regan Clairmont 4, Jealynn Askan 2, Kienna DeRoche 3, Kianna Finley 2.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Dani Douglas 8, Hannah Gedlaman 16, Josie Windauer 4, Peyton Rhodes 2, Hannah Schweikert 1, Ryley Kehr 11, Trista Cowan 8.