The Wildcats came up just short of picking up two wins last week as they defeated the Pirates in Polson Tuesday but fell at home to Libby in overtime Thursday.
The Cats used ball control and balanced scoring to survive a close game against the Pirates in Polson Tuesday as Columbia Falls earned a 50-45 victory. Matthew Morrison scored 13 and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Cats in the win while Austin Green scored 11 and added three rebounds and three assists. Lowell Panasuk had nine points, Logan Bechtel had six and Quintin Schriver scored five for the Cats, who committed just six turnovers in the victory.
“Our balanced scoring is one of our biggest strengths. A lot of teams only have one or two main scorers, but we can get points from a number of players. It helps make us harder to defend,” head coach Chris Finberg said. “It was a well-played game by both sides. Any time you can have more made threes than turnovers, you are having a pretty good game.”
The Cats were 7-19 from three-point range in the contest.
A close game throughout, the final score represented the largest lead for either side in the contest.
Foul trouble and poor free throw shooting were the undoing of the Cats at home Thursday as they fell to Libby in overtime, 60-53.
Morrison battled foul trouble throughout the contest and picked up his fifth when he received a technical late in the third quarter while the Cats made just 10 of 25 attempts at the foul line in the loss.
“Foul trouble really hurt us. You have to give Libby credit, though. They had some kids step up and hit some big shots for them. That, combined with our inability to convert at the free throw line, is really what did us in,” Finberg said. “It has been a problem for us all season and it came back to hurt us again.”
The Cats trailed 27-19 at the half came out firing in the third and were able to tie the conest at 27-27 on a three by Bechtel five minutes into the quarter.
The Loggers regained the lead after Morrison’s technical, but Schriver tied the game again with an inside basket moments later. Libby put in a free throw late in the third to take a 30-29 lead into the fourth quarter.
Libby went up by as many as five in the fourth, but threes from Panasuk and Bechtel helped the Cats stay close before a pair of free throws by Green put Columbia Falls ahead 43-42 with 42.1 seconds to play.
Panasuk made one of two at the line with 16 seconds to play to put the Cats up two, but a runner by Libby’s J.J. Davis tied the game with 4.7 seconds to play.
A runner by Salmonsen at the buzzer just missed and the game went into overtime with the teams tied, 44-44.
Free throws dominated the overtime, as Libby made 12 of 14 attempts in the extra period to pull away for the win.
Libby 10 17 3 14 16 — 60
Columbia Falls 13 6 10 15 9 — 53
LIBBY — Brian Peck 3, JJ Davis 17, Ryggs Johnston 27, Nik Jones 5, Keith Johnson 8.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Austin Green 9, Tucker Salmonsen 12, Drew Morgan 7, Lowell Panasuk 9, Billy Barrett 3, Quintin Schriver 4, Logan Bechtel 4, Matthew Morrison 5.
Columbia Falls 9 15 9 17 – 50
Polson 8 14 12 11 – 45
COLUMBIA FALLS – Logan Bechtel 6, Austin Green 11, Drew Morgan 3, Matthew Morrison 13, Lowell Panasuk 9, Tucker Salmonsen 3, Quintin Schriver 5.
POLSON – Asa Askan 8, Weston Danley 2, Robin Erickson 4, Connor Lanier 6, Shade Main 17, Sam Schultz 4, Kordell Walker 4.