Kats overcome rough first half to down Whitefish

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Dani Douglas drives past Whitefish defender Claire Carloss during the first quarter Thursday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

The Wildkats led by just four at the half against rival Whitefish Thursday but found their groove in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 57-35 victory.

The 12 first-half points was a season-low for the Wildkats, who remain undefeated in conference play with the win.

“We started missing shots at the beginning of the game and it kinda snowballed on us,” head coach Cary Finberg said. “We got more and more tentative and then nothing would fall through for us. We were 5-27 in the first half. It could have been a lot different if we could have just gotten one shot to go down.”

The Kats struggled from the field in the opening quarter, but still managed to take a 9-3 lead after eight minutes of play. A scoring drought of longer than 10 minutes by the Kats allowed Whitefish to cut the lead to 9-6 in the second quarter before a Dani Douglas three finally got Columbia Falls on the board with 38 seconds to play in the half. Whitefish had an answer in the closing moments and the Wildkats led 12-8 at the half.

A jumper by Whitefish’s Kit Anderson cut the Wildkat lead to two with 7:32 to play in the third before Trista Cowan scored eight to help spark a 12-4 Wildkat run that put Columbia Falls up 26-16 heading into the fourth quarter.

It was all Kats in the final eight minutes as Cowan, Hannah Gedlaman and Ryley Kehr combined to score 20 of the team’s 31 fourth-quarter points as Columbia Falls pulled away to win 57-25.

Cowan led the way for Wildkats with 16 points and 16 rebounds while Gedlaman also scored in double figures with 10.

The road gets tougher for the Kats this week as they take on Browning Thursday in a battle for the conference lead. Both teams come into the game unbeaten in conference play. The girls will be on the road Saturday as they face 11-0 Hamilton.

“This week will be a good test for us,” Finberg said. “After this weekend, we should have a really good idea of where this team is at.”

Whitefish 3 5 8 9 — 25

Columbia Falls 9 3 14 31 — 57

WHITEFISH — Kit Anderson 2, Clarie Carloss 2, Kaiah Moore 3, Ashton Ramsey 1, Annisa Brown 5, Payton Katella 12.

COLUMBIA FALLS — Dani Douglas 3, Savannah Ellis 6, Lakia Hill 8, Hannah Gedlaman 10, Josie Windauer 2, Hannah Schweikert 2, Ryley Kehr 9, Diana Vasquez 1, Trista Cowan 16.

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