Wildcats lose heartbreaker in Ronan, fall at home to Bigfork

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  • Jack Price dives for a loose ball during the fourth quarter against Bigfork Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

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    Brad Nieves

  • Jack Price dives for a loose ball during the fourth quarter against Bigfork Saturday. (Jeremy Weber photo)

  • 1

    Brad Nieves

The Wildcat basketball team dropped to 1-7 last week as they lost a nailbiter on the road at Ronan Friday before falling to defending Class B state champion Bigfork by 50 at home Saturday.

The Cats led virtually the entire game against the Chiefs in Ronan Friday, but Ronan’s Zarec Couture made a steal near half court and drove in for a layup to give Ronan a 37-36 lead with four seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Drew Morgan’s final shot was off the mark at the buzzer as the Cats fell by one.

“The fourth quarter was our downfall once again. We just turned the ball over too much,” head coach Chris Finberg said. “You are not going to win many games when you can’t make a free throw and you only score five points in the fourth quarter.”

The Cats were 0-5 from the foul line in the contest.

Morgan had 15 points in the loss while Dillon Shipp added seven, Sam Hovde scored four, William Dyon had three and Dillon Wanner and Danny Henjum each scored two.

The Cats found themselves overmatched at home Saturday as they fell to Bigfork, 70-20.

“We laid an egg against Bigfork. We knew it was going to be a tough battle, we knew that, but they are not 50 points better than us. We had a tough night,” Finberg said. “We really put up no resistance defensively. They just got whatever they wanted. Every open shot, they knocked down. We tried different defenses and nothing worked.

Playing without injured guard Morgan, the Wildcats fell behind early. Bigfork scored the game’s opening basket on a close shot near the rim before Shipp answered with a jumper for the Cats moments later, but Columbia Falls would not make another field goal until another Shipp shot with 1:24 to play in the half as the Vikings went up 20-5 after one quarter and 42-10 at the half.

The Wildcat offense found a spark in the third quarter as Logan Bechtel scored four quick points, but the Vikings continued to add to their lead. Zach Pletcher scored on the post and later added a pair of free throws, but Bigfork grew its lead to 62-18 going into the fourth quarter with a running clock. Jake Bulawsky scored the Cats’ only two points of the final frame as Bigfork got the win.

Despite the loss, Finberg was still optimistic about the upcoming schedule.

“If we can get back to playing the way we have in a few of our games, we will be fine,” he said.

The Cats will be off until Jan. 3, when they host Libby before also playing at home against Polson Jan. 5.

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