The Columbia Falls girls basketball team punched their ticket to the state A basketball tourney in convincing fashion Saturday, downing Corvallis 71-40 for the Western A Divisional title.
The championship game was close for a quarter as the Blue Devils and Wildkats were knotted up at 20 apiece after the first quarter.
But the Kats clamped down on defense after that, holding Corvallis to just 20 points the rest of game.
Peyton Kehr led the Kats with 16, Kiara Burlage had 14, Sydney Hovde 14, Cydney Finberg had 10, Dani Douglas had 11 as the girls did a great job of sharing the ball, breaking the Corvallis triangle and two defense.
“Our defense picked it up in that game,” coach Cary Finberg said.
Douglas had five steals and five assists, Cydney Finberg had seven assists and three steals. The two point guards had just two turnovers combined.
Butte Central gave the Kats a tougher time. They held the Kats to just four points in the first quarter in the semifinal round. Central held an edge 22-20 at the break.
The Kats shot just 1 for 13 in the first quarter, but ended up shooting 63 percent after that.
Hovde was 7 for 7 shooting, with nine rebounds and three steals. Cydney Finberg had five assists and five steals.
The Kats found their groove in the second half, including a 24-point fourth quarter to put the defending Class A champs away, 57-48. Hovde had a great game, with 17 points to lead the Kats.
The Kats held Butte to just one offensive rebound.
The girls opened the tourney last Wednesday with a 55-28 win over Hamilton.
While they started slow offensively, they ended up 23 for 48 shooting for 48 percent and held Hamilton to just 18.5 percent shooting until the end of the game, when the subs came in. Douglas had five steals in the win. Hovde had six boards and four steals.
Finberg was pleased that the Kats beat three of the teams from the west that qualified for state.
They face Laurel in the first round of the state tournament in Butte Thursday. Gametime is 12:30 p.m. If they get past Laurel, it could set up another rematch against Butte Central on Friday, as the Lady Maroons are on the same side of the bracket.
Hardin was the top seed in the East. At 20-1, they beat Havre for the Eastern A Divisional title. The Kats are 20-1 as well. If both squads make it to the final, it should be a barn burner.
“This is what we want,” said Finberg said. “We want to be challenged. We got confidence we’re going to play well. We’re ready to go.”
The last time the girls won a state championship was in 1983. Back then, the girls played basketball in the fall. The Kats were class AA and they beat Helena High 68-53 for the crown.
C. Falls 20 17 23 11 – 71
Corvallis 20 7 7 6 – 40
Columbia Falls (20-1) – Dani Douglas 11, Cydney Finberg 10, Tallia Sova 2, Peyton Kehr 15, Ryley Kehr 5, Kiara Burlage 14, Sydney Hovde 14.
Corvallis (12-9) – Penny Jessop 6, Calla Haldorson 5, Sydney Powell 2, Emma Warnken 17, Corinne Sanderson 5, Hannah Hutchison 2, Lainie Albright 2, Molliegh Siebenaler 1.
Butte Central 6 16 8 18 – 48
C. Falls 4 14 15 24 – 57
Butte Central – Kloie Thatcher 8, Olivia Bolton 6, Molly Peoples 20, Emily St John 11, Corbyn Holm 3.
Columbia Falls – Dani Douglas 13, Cydney Finberg 4, Peyton Kehr 13, Kiara Burlage 10, Sydney Hovde 17.
Hamilton 3 8 4 13 – 28
C. Falls 11 9 16 19 – 55
Hamilton (6-13) – Tessa Della Silva 3, Tristy Searle 6, Kara Nye 8, Reilly Rostad 5, Sophia Doyle 4, Lauren Ryter 2.
Columbia Falls (18-1) – Dani Douglas 9, Hannah Gedlaman 2, Cydney Finberg 8, Peyton Kehr 7, Ryler Kehr 5, Kiara Burlage 13, Trista Cowan 2, Sydney Hovde 9.