Wildcats drop pair to Ronan, Libby at district tourney

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  • Logan Bechtel fights off Libby’s Brian Peck for a loose ball at the district tournament in Ronan Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

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    Austin Green goes to the basket against the Loggers at the district basketball tournament Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

  • Logan Bechtel fights off Libby’s Brian Peck for a loose ball at the district tournament in Ronan Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

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    Austin Green goes to the basket against the Loggers at the district basketball tournament Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

The Wildcat basketball season game to a close at the Northwest A District Tournament in Ronan over the weekend as Columbia Falls lost to the host Chiefs and the Libby Loggers.

The Cats found themselves in a large hole after one quarter of play at the tournament Thursday as they went scoreless in the opening eight minutes against Ronan. The Chiefs led 15-0 heading into the second quarter. The Cats outscored the Chiefs over the final three quarters in the contest, but could not overcome the deficit as they fell to the host team, 65-52.

“A deficit like that is just hard to overcome,” head coach Chris Finberg said. “We came out flat and looked like we were playing at half speed. We had better energy and hit some shots in the second half, but Ronan hit shots too.”

Matthew Morrison led the Cats with 19 points and eight rebounds in the loss while Tucker Salmonsen added 11.

The Cats found themselves in another large hole after two quarters against Libby in the second round of the tournament, but this time Columbia Falls would make a valiant comeback attempt before falling, 54-53.

The Cats struggled to contain Class A leading scorer Ryggs Johnston in the first half of the contest as he knocked down a number of deep threes to help lead the Loggers to a 33-14 halftime advantage.

The Cats looked like a different team in the third quarter as Columbia Falls used a full court press to force the Loggers into a number of turnovers. The miscues led to several easy scoring opportunities for the Cats as Columbia Falls chipped away at the Libby lead.

The Cats outscored Libby 18-9 in the third and cut the Logger lead to just 10 on a three from Schriver in the closing moments of the frame.

Drew Morgan opened the fourth with another three for the Cats as they continued to cut into the Logger lead. Later in the quarter, a steal led to a layup by Salmonsen that tied the score at 46-46 with 3:12 to play.

A post basket by Morrison gave the Cats a two-point lead with 2:50 to play, but Johnston answered with a deep three to give the lead back to the Loggers. The Cats trailed by one late in the quarter when Morrison found Salmonsen in the corner for a three that put the Cats up 53-51 with 1:01 to play.

Johnston again answered with a deep three and the cats trailed 54-53.

The Cats had one last chance with 5.7 to play, but a runner by Morgan bounced off the rim and Libby held on for the win.

Morrison again led the Cats with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss while Salmonsen and Schriver each added nine.

The Cats finish the season 5-15 with the losses.

Columbia Falls 9 5 18 21 — 53

Libby 12 21 9 12 — 54

COLUMBIA FALLS — Austin Green 6, Tucker Salmonsen 9, Drew Morgan 8, Lowell Panasuk 7, Quinten Schriver 9, Logan Bechtel 1, Matthew Morrison 13.

LIBBY — Brian Peck 1, JJ Davis 4, Ryggs Johnston 29, Logan Christensen 4, Nik Jones 3, Keith Johnson 13.

Columbia Falls 0 8 18 26 — 52

Ronan 15 12 18 20 — 65

COLUMBIA FALLS — Austin Green 2, Tucker Salmonsen 11, Drew Morgan 9, Lowell Panasuk 2, Quintin Schriver 6, Logan Bechtel 3, Matthew Morrison 19

RONAN — Ezekiel Misa 21, Randy Finley 2, Nathan Dennis 9, Bubba Bush 6, Dallas Durheim 11, Jacob Gatch 3, Anthony Camel 13.

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