Wildkats to open divisional play against Butte Central

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Hannah Gedlaman goes up for a shot in the paint against several Browning defenders in the district championship game in Ronan Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

The Wildkats will open the divisional tournament against a familiar foe Thursday as they open against the third seed from the Southwest Conference, Butte Central.

The Kats defeated Butte Central in the divisional tournament last season en route to the Class A state title, but fell to Central in the state title game in 2016.

Central comes into this season’s matchup with a 16-5 record, with a pair of losses to both Hamilton and Dillon and one loss against Butte High. Central is once again led by Kloie Thatcher, who leads Class A in assists per game with 6.2 per contest and is seventh in scoring (14.7) and 10th in steals (3.1).

Central finished third at the Southwest A tournament last weekend after losing to Dillon in the opening round, 46-43, before bouncing back with wins over Corvallis and Hamilton.

With a win against Butte Central, the Kats would face the winner of Southwest champion Frenchtown and Ronan.

Frenchtown comes into the tournament 12-9 on the season after defeating Corvallis, Hamilton and Dillon to win the Southwest A crown. After losing their first five games of the season, Frenchtown bounced back to enter last weekend’s tournament with a 9-9 record.

The team averages 41.6 points per contest and is led by Alivia Williams, who is 10th in the state in scoring at 13.6 points per game and seventh in steals at 3.4 per contest.

The Kats defeated Frenchtown earlier this season, beating the Lady Broncs 46-30 December 9.

Ronan finished fourth at the Northwest A tournament after beating Whitefish and losing to Columbia Falls and Libby.

On the other side of the bracket, Northwest top seed Browning will face Hamilton, the fourth seed from Southwest A.

Browning is 16-4 after defeating Libby and Columbia Falls over the weekend while Hamilton is 18-3.

Hamilton entered the Southwest A tournament with a lone loss to Columbia Falls, but fell to Butte Central and Frenchtown to finish fourth.

The winner of that game will face the winner of Dillon and Libby. The second seed from the southwest, Dillon is 11-10 after beating Stevensville and Butte Central and losing to Frenchtown last weekend.

Libby is 14-8 after playing four games at the Northwest A tournament. The Lady Loggers opened the tournament with a win over Polson, lost to Browning, but bounced back with wins over Whitefish and Ronan to finish fourth.

The championship game will be Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

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