The Wildkats’ hopes of a back-to-back state basketball titles were dashed Thursday evening as Columbia Falls fell to Hardin in the opening round of the Class A State Tournament in Great Falls, 60-34.
The Kats shot just 30 percent in the contest and committed 14 turnovers while Hardin knocked down 40 percent of its shots and turned the ball over only 11 times.
Columbia Falls also struggled at the foul line, making just eight of 22 free throws.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the game’s opening minutes before a three-point play by Trista Cowan and a pair of free throws by Josie Windauer brought the Wildkats within five at 16-11.
Cowan was forced to the bench with her second foul late in the first quarter and Hardin responded with a 5-0 run to push the Bulldog lead to 21-11 after eight minutes of play.
The Kats could not get any closer than eight in the second quarter as Hardin continued to add to its lead. The Bulldogs took a 34-21 advantage into the break.
Columbia Falls continued to struggle in the second half as Hardin pulled away to win by 26.
The Kats had no players score in double figures and were led by freshman Hannah Schweikert’s seven points and nine rebounds off the bench. Dani Douglas, LaKia Hill and Cowan each finished with five points and Hannah Gedlaman, Windauer and Ryley Kehr each scored four.
The Bulldogs were led by Aiyanna Eraux’s 14 points while Karissa DuShane scored 13.
The Kats will be in action today at 2 p.m. as they face Glendive in a loser-out matchup.
Columbia Falls 11 10 6 7 — 34
Hardin 21 13 10 16 — 60
COLUMBIA FALLS — Dani Douglas 5, Lakiah Hill 5, Hannah Gedlaman 4, Josie Windauer 4, Hannah Schweikert 7, Ryley Kehr 4, Trista Cowan 5.
HARDIN — Ivery Fitzler 3, Sharmayne Hardy 4, Karissa DuShane 13, Mashaya Alden 4, Aiyanna Ereaux 14, Cailei Cummins 2, Bergan Realbird 6, Arena Plenty 6, Marie Five 8.