COLUMBIA FALLS — If they were at all upset with a loss to Flathead on Friday, Columbia Falls took out its frustration on Northwestern A rival Frenchtown on Saturday. The No. 5 Wildcats (8-3 overall, 3-1 Northwestern A) beat the league leaders by 40 points to wrest control of first place from the Broncs (6-4, 3-1) in a 70-30 boys basketball win at Larry Schmautz Memorial Court.
The barrage started in the second quarter, after a desperation 3-pointer from Frenchtown big man Bridger Truett at the close of the first quarter gave the Broncs a 9-8 lead in what was building to be another defensive slugfest.
Wildcats junior guard Jayce Fagerland opened the frame with three straight 3-pointers and senior guard Alex Presnell closed the half with another 3, calmly pulling the trigger before the buzzer and jogging into the locker room.
“Jayce Fagerland stepped up, was huge,” Columbia Falls coach Cary Finberg said.
“I thought Alex really rose to the occasion. He was a lot more aggressive tonight looking to score. I thought our energy was better tonight from everybody. We took care of the ball much better, I thought we came ready to play.”
The stretch was a harbinger of the storm to come after the break, when the Wildcats locked down Frenchtown on defense and kept raining shots from deep, hitting four more from 3-point range to outscore the Broncs 25-2 in the third quarter alone.
Columbia Falls held Frenchtown without a field goal for more than 10 minutes of game time and never relented, closing the third up 47-17.
Even as the bench came in to signal the dogs being called off, the Wildcats continued to spread their lead, even closing the game with a 3 from 30 feet out.
“For us to hold a team like Frenchtown to 30 points and (star guard John) Chapman to six, that’s good defense,” Finberg said.
“Credit those kids for understanding what we needed to do defensively.
“I didn’t expect to hold them to 30. That was unbelievable effort from our kids.”
Chapman, who entered the contest leading Class A in scoring (24.4 points per game), was held to his lowest total this season.
“We made it hard on him,” Finberg said.
“He got a couple looks on us. But when you make it hard on a kid all game long, sometimes when he gets an open look he’s gonna be rushing it. Our guards played very smart out there, they did what they needed to do.”
Presnell had a game-high 20 points to lead Columbia Falls. Fagerland added 15 points and Jared Trinastich had 14.
Truett led Frenchtown with 11.
Frenchtown 9 6 2 13 — 30
Columbia Falls 8 14 25 23 — 70
FRENCHTOWN — John Chapman 6, Quintin Mazzola 2, Andrew Honken 5, Bridger Truett 11, Jordan Moe 4, Bobby Erbaugh 2.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Alex Presnell 20, Jayce Fagerland 15, Austin Kimmet 2, Nakia Alexander 3, Ty Morgan 5, Jackson Barta 3, Justice McManus 6, Mason Gedlaman 1, Jared Trinastich 14, Grant Wallace 1.