��� KATS BEAT POLSON--48-38 TO MOVE ONTO STATE! | Columbia Falls High School Girls' Basketball | iHigh.com
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February 26, 2013
Columbia Falls High School



Columbia Falls 48, Polson 38

At Ronan, the ranked WildKats were able to hold at bay a spirited challenge by the Lady Pirates for the right to represent the NWA at the upcoming Class A state tournament. It was anticipated that in order for the challengers to reduplicate the feat accomplished by the Frenchtown Lady Broncs in the NWA championship game, Polson would have had to connect with a high percentage of triples as well as convert a higher percentage from the charity stripe than those of the defending WildKats. It was acknowledged that Columbia Falls would hold the upper hand with its inside game, Polson attempting to keep pace to a lesser extent with its own playmaking around the paint. Unfortunately, the challengers were unable to dial the operator long distance and complete the call from beyond the arc enough times to counter the inside presence of their opponent. The battle at the charity stripe likewise fell slightly short as well. The game was close through the first quarter, Columbia Falls cobbling together a slight lead mainly off inside feeds to their stellar post player Haley Belgarde. The WildKats shot in the 50th percentile inside the paint due to their superior height advantage. Polson converted some opportunities inside to senior forward/post Heidi Rausch, but the long reach of their opponent forced the alteration of numerous trajectories sufficiently that they did not find their intended mark. The Lady Pirates closed the gap to within a single score 25-28 toward the end of the third period, but the Kats would once again expand their lead through the early going of the final quarter. Polson was able to put together a bit of a rally to whittle the lead down to half a dozen, but could not trim the deficit any further. One influential juncture would be a sequence involving a foul, and a technical with its subsequent possession in which the Lady Pirates would come up empty when they had an opportunity to tie the game had they been able to maximize their chances. Belgarde led all scorers with a double-double of 20 points and a dozen boards. Mackenzie Banner paced the Lady Pirates with 14 points and a quintet of steals. These two would be the only players to score in double figures. Rausch would just miss a double-double with 9 points and ten rebounds for Polson, while Winter Kemppainen would likewise counter with her own 9 points along with a quintet of rebounds.

Several season as well as career milestones were achieved during this game. For Columbia Falls, junior Haley Belgarde surpassed her 500th career point during her first deuce within the paint. Sophomore Ciera Finberg likewise surpassed her 200th career point during the course of this challenge game. For Polson, senior Mackenzie Banner surpassed her 350th career point and came within 5 of tallying her 200th career rebound. Junior Jessica Bagnell grabbed her 100th rebound of the season with her first board during the course of the game. Senior Anna DiGiallonardo picked off her 125th career steal with her final pilfer of the evening. Senior Heidi Rausch achieved dual membership among the 400 club for both career points scored and career rebounds grabbed with her 42 point performance during the NWA Divisional Tournament.
C FALLS 10 10 8 20 - 48
POLSON 8 4 13 13 - 38

CFALLS - Haley Belgarde 20, Winter Kemppainen 9, Hope Burlage 7, Ciera Finberg 5, Shannon Hay 4, Andrea Getts 3, Tori Price, Kathrin Jetty, Ellie Johnson.

POLSON - Mackenzie Banner 14, Heidi Rausch 9, Malia hamel 6, Tegan Bauer 5, Hallie Hovenkotter 2, Monika Frame 1, Anna DiGiallonardo 1, Jessica Bagnell.

3FG - C Falls 1-8 (Finberg), Polson 2-13 (Banner 2). REBOUNDS - C Falls 32* (Belgarde 12, Burlage 7, Kemppainen 5, Getts 3, Finberg 2, Price 2, Hay), Polson 26 (Rausch 10*, Hovenkotter 4*, Frame 3*, Banner 3, Bauer 3, Bagnell 2, DiGiallonardo). ASSISTS - C Falls >6 (Kempainen 2, Jetty, Burlage, Getts, ?), Polson 3 [8] (Bagnell 2, Banner, [*Hamel, *DiGiallonardo]). STEALS - C Falls at least 6 (Burlage 2, Price, Kemppainen, Belgarde, Hay), Polson 15* (Banner 5, Bagnell 3, Hamel 2, Bauer 2, DiGiallonardo 2, Rausch). BLOCKS - C Falls at least 2 (Getts, Kemppainen), Polson 0.

Unofficial game rendition by John Heglie drawn from own tally of game notations. Some details will vary from official summary. Asterisk (*) denotes discrepancy from consultations from either another unofficial statistical source or from one of the official stat keeping personnel. Where uncertainty exists due to lack of a photographic memory to appropriately attribute stat credit, a greater than (>) insignia or the words “at least” are utilized with citation of those players who were credited during the course of the game with a notation. 

Laurel girls ease past Hardin, into State A tournament


Laurel took hold of the Eastern A girls basketball divisional challenge game from the start and never let it go.

From Jayde LeFevre's opening two 3-pointers to an 11-point run to close the game, the Lady Locomotives cruised to a 48-26 win over Hardin on Monday at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark and reached the state tournament for the third straight year.

LeFevre had a game-high 16 points and Abbie Lohoff added 10 as the Locomotives (16-6) avenged two earlier losses to the Bulldogs (13-8) with a show of solid fundamental basketball.

"You always have more motivation when someone beats you a first and second time," LeFevre said. "We tried to focus on everything. A lot of my teammates stepped up more than I did. I'm very happy for them."

Although LeFevre needed 20 shots to get her points -- the senior guard was 4 for 20 from the floor -- she contributed in other ways, mainly with a couple key assists and four steals. Meanwhile, the teammates she was happy for were doing a lot of the basics that helped Laurel lead from wire to wire.

Leslie Gappa had eight points, nine rebounds and three assists, and Allie McGrath had three assists as well.

Bailey Love (five rebounds), Dalayna Christenson (four) and Lohoff (four) helped Laurel dominate the paint, leading to a 38-28 rebounding advantage.

The Locomotives had 10 offensive rebounds at the half, which led to 18 second-chance points and a 27-16 lead at the break.

"We put in a lot of effort and we just really believed that we could get it done," Gappa said. "After we lost to Central (in Friday's semifinals) we all believed and wanted to work together and go to state."

Hardin, which began the divisional tournament as the top seed, never could get its pressure defense to pay dividends. A poor shooting percentage -- just 24 percent from the floor -- limited the Bulldogs' chances to get into their full-court press.

Even then, Laurel, the tournament's No. 2 seed, took care of the ball. The Locomotives turned the ball over just 12 times to Hardin's 25.

"We really executed what we were trying to do, both offensively and defensively," said Laurel coach Amber Griffith, whose team had to win two Saturday loser-out contests and then hope for Billings Central to beat Hardin in the championship to earn a challenge game.

"We talked before the game that any 50-50 balls were ours. We were not going to get outplayed tonight and I thought our kids played very, very hard."

Hardin didn't have a player in double figures in what was the Bulldogs' lowest output of the season. Teonna Little Light led the way with nine points and Kanani Birdinground had six.

"We knew we had to limit their shots and slow it down on our end," said Griffth. "We did it perfectly. I'm proud of the kids."

Laurel will face Frenchtown, the No. 1 seed from the Northwestern A, on Thursday in the first round of the state tournament at the Civic Center in Butte.



Locomotives escape Glendive in Eastern A challenge game


Once again caught in a nail-biter and fighting to keep their season alive, this time the Laurel Locomotives made their final desperate possessions count.

Evan Jones scored on a layup with three seconds remaining Monday night to lift the Locos to a 41-49 win over Glendive in the Eastern A boys divisional challenge game at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

Trailing by five points with a little more than four minutes remaining, Laurel (19-2) stared elimination in the face as Glendive (16-7) took control. But the gritty Locomotives didn’t blink.

Now they’re headed back to the state tournament, which begins March 7 at Rimrock Auto Arena.

“I just wanted to make sure when I got the ball that I was strong with it,” said Jones, who took a quick pass near the left block, turned and scored the winning points. “The pressure was definitely on. We just didn’t want the year to end like this.”

Glendive quickly called a timeout after Jones scored and tried to set up a game-winning shot. But Laurel played strong defense, and the Red Devils were forced to settle for a 50-footer by Tanner Schwartz that sailed well wide of the rim.

It was a reversal of fortune for Laurel, which lost in overtime to Billings Central in the championship game Saturday night when it scored just two points in the final 12 minutes.

Glendive, trying for its first state tourney berth since it last won the divisional title in 2007, took a 37-32 lead with 4:12 on the clock when Schwartz drove the lane and scored a layup. A three-point play by Bryden Boehning a couple possessions earlier gave the Red Devils their first lead of the game.

But Laurel fought back as Brett Thompson scored six consecutive points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer that took a high bounce off the front of the rim and somehow fell through the hoop with 2:33 remaining.

Taylor Maida also hit a clutch 3 from the top of the key to tie the game 39-39.

Thompson fought foul trouble throughout the game, but came through when it mattered.

“It was kind of running through my head that this could be the last four minutes of my high school basketball career,” said Thompson, who was short on two game-winning shot attempts in Saturday's championship game. “I told myself that I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted to get to the state tournament.”

Thompson scored a team-high 10 points.

The Locomotives started hot, and took a 14-4 advantage with the help of 3-pointers from Shawn Nardella and Bryce Herman, the last of which came at the 2:28 mark of the first quarter.

From there, though, Glendive outscored Laurel 35-27. In the end, the Red Devils actually shot a better percentage than their opponent -- .520 to .500.

“I told the kids that sometimes it’s just not meant to be,” said Red Devils coach Wade Murphy, whose team lost to the Locomotives three times this season by a combined six points. “That 3-pointer Thompson hit, it bounced, what, four feet in the air and fell in?

“We honestly did some things to hurt ourselves, but we were a really good team tonight. I’m not going to say we were the better team because we didn’t win, but we played well enough to win.”

Boehning, a 6-foot-10 junior, led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

Laurel has been ranked No. 1 in Class A all season, having won its first 17 games before losing to Class AA Billings Skyview. The Locomotives will go into the state tournament as the No. 2 seed from the Eastern division, where they’ll play Columbia Falls in the first round.

Columbia Falls, coached by Cary Finberg, is a perennial power from the Northwestern A, and regularly competes for (and wins) state titles. The Wildcats enter this year’s tourney off another division championship.

“We’ve got some time to prepare,” Laurel coach Pat Hansen said. “Columbia Falls is so competitive year in and year out. We’ll see what we can do to win.”

NOTES: Laurel’s victory finalized the bracket for the state tournament. The other first-round matchups are: Stevensville vs. Browning, Billings Central vs. Frenchtown, and Belgrade vs. Butte Central.


Browning girls blitz Livingston Park Rangers

Feb. 25, 2013
Browning's Marti Eagle Feathers (34) makes a basket against Livingston's Megan Schoenen during a Central A Challenge game Monday at C.M. Russell Fieldhouse. / TRIBUNE PHOTO/LARRY BECKNER

Marti Eagle Feathers and the Browning girls’ basketball team have worked tirelessly over the last three years to earn a berth in the State A tournament.

Now, that dream will become a reality.

The Indians never looked back after mounting a 10-0 run in the first quarter to build a double-digit lead on the Livingston Park Rangers inside CMR Fieldhouse on Monday night, sailing to a 62-36 win.

The victory gave the Indians, who finished as runner-ups to Havre in the Central A tournament last weekend, the second and final ticket to state from the division.

Led by first-year head coach Ray Augare, Browning will play Butte Central on Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Butte Civic Center.

“It means a whole lot to me as a coach,” Augare said. “That’s something you take the job for is to eventually get to state.”

Against Havre on Saturday night, the Indians couldn’t contain the Blue Ponies’ hot shooting and squandered their chance at the Central A title. Heading into Monday’s contest against Livingston, Browning had something to prove.

“I thought against Havre, they spread us out and we were just chasing the ball,” Augare said. “We were getting to the shooters too late. That was one thing we kind of worked on, making sure we didn’t over pursue.”

The Indians held the Rangers’ offense in check all night, as Livingston notched a 24.4 percent shooting mark from the field.

Eagle Feathers, a senior point guard, steered the Indians with 16 points and four assists—both game-highs.

“It’s unbelievable,” an excited Eagle Feathers said about going to state. “We had a tough loss against Havre. We came back. We wanted it. We were determined to go to state.”

Eagle Feathers added: “This is what I’ve wanted forever.”

Tiara Gilham netted 14 points and Rachel Heptner added nine. Eight Indians scored, helping the team record a 42 percent shooting mark from the floor.

“That was something we tried to emphasize: taking the open shots,” Augare said, “and we were able to knock some down.”

Megan Schoenen scored 15 points, including four 3-pointers, to pace the Rangers. Macy Ricketts had eight and Katie Buckley tallied five points and six rebounds.

The Indians forced 23 Livingston turnovers and had 10 steals.

In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Ricketts knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Indians’ lead to 44-28.

Eagle Feathers made sure to not let them get any closer, keeping the throttle open to swish a couple late baskets.

“Marti is kind of the team leader,” Augare said. “She’s super quick. She means a whole lot. As Marti goes, we go.”

Browning turned a 17-5 lead after the first quarter into a 31-11 advantage at halftime.

“Our game overall was amazing,” Eagle Feathers said. “We helped each other. We had a very healthy number of assists right off the bat. We were playing as a team, as one.”

Augare, who coached the Browning boys’ team last season, said switching to mentor the Indian girls was a tough task, but also one that’s been fruitful.

“Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect,” Augare said. “It’s been a lot different than the boys. But, the girls worked hard.”

“The beginning of the year was kind of hard,” Augare added. “About halfway through the season we started picking it up and they started playing really hard.”

Browning will now shift focus to the Maroons of Butte Central, who went 16-4 during the regular season.

“Now we’re at state,” Augare said, “it’s still about winning, not just getting there.”

Livingston…5 6 14 11 – 36

Browning…17 14 13 18 – 62

LIVINGSTON—Emily Fochs 0, Megan Schoenen 15, Katie Buckley 5, Macy Ricketts 8, Megan Hawkins 0, Mia Stewart 0, Meadow Ingram 4, Callie Ellingson 2, Chelsea Woods 2, Meghan Gibson 0, Kariel Kelley 0, Sierra Higgs 0. Totals: 11 8-12 36.

BROWNING—Rachel Heptner 9, Courtney Little Dog 6, Jessica Magee 8, Shelsey St. Goddard 0, Mariah Ingraham 0, Tiara Gilham 14, Cyndi Sharp 2, Brooke Carlson 5, Marti Eagle Feathers 16, Treyanna Belcourt 0, Ashley Burd 2, Brittney Wolf Tail 0. Totals: 27 4-8 62.

3-pointers—Shoenen 4, Ricketts 2, Heptner, Gilham 2, Carlson. Turnovers—Browning 12, Livingston 23. Rebounds—Browning 36, Livingston 32. Total fouls—Browning 11, Livingston 7. Fouled out—none.

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