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Bozeman Bound

by Hungry Horse News
| March 8, 2023 2:00 AM

With a 9-point lead in the fourth quarter, it looked like Columbia Falls boys basketball team would cruise to victory over Havre in the state A play-in game Saturday at the Butte Civic Center.

The Wildcats got the win, 82-74, but it took overtime to get there.

Havre chipped away at the lead in regulation and the Cats missed a string of free throws down the stretch in an agonizing last 90 seconds of regulation filled with drama.

The Cats were up 67-64 and had the ball. Mark Robison was fouled, hit two free throws to put the Cats up 69-64.

Havre hit a field goat to cut the margin to 69-66, but the Cats drained a free throw on an ensuing foul to go up 70-66 with about a minute left. The Cats got the ball back and Havre fouled Jace Hill with 49 seconds left. Hill missed the first free throw, hit the second — Cats up 72-68.

Then things got even more interesting. With 33 seconds left, Cody Schweikert was fouled and went to the line, but missed both free throws (both teams were well into the bonus).

The Cats got the ball back again, Hill was fouled this time around, but missed both free throws with 27 seconds left.

Then Havre hit a trey with 19.4 on the clock to make it 72-71.

The Cats turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, and fouled Havre. They hit one, missed the other. The Cats had one last shot, but it was off the mark. Hello overtime.

In OT the game was far less dramatic. Hunter Goodman was fouled right off the bat and hit both to put the Cats up 74-72. Schweikert was fouled on the Cats’ next possession and hit both free throws to put the Cats up 4.

Havre would cut the lead to 3 but that’s as close as they would get as the Cats pulled away down the stretch.

“I told them don’t worry,” coach Chris Finberg said as the team went into OT. “Just focus on these last 4 minutes.”

And they did just that. The missed free throws down the stretch in regulation were actually uncharacteristic for the squad. Hill, for example, shoots about 80% from the line.

“We regrouped and had a good overtime,” Finberg said.

It’s the first trip to the state tournament since 2015.

That year the Cats took third. The year before that they had an improbable run, winning it all as they upset a heavily-favored Dillon team in the state championship.

Hill led the team with 17. Schweikert had 15, Alihn Anderson had 11, Robison had 12 and Hunter Goodman came off the bench and had a stellar game with 15.

The Cats were great on the boards, out rebounding the Blue Ponies, 43-23.

The Cats will open the state tournament Thursday against Butte Central (20-1), who has lost two games in two years and was last year’s state champion.

Still, every team in the state tourney is good and anything can happen.

“We’re taking it one game at a time and see if we can get to Saturday,” Finberg said.”Every team is there for a reason.”

The Butte game has a 1:30 p.m. start.

C-Falls 18 18 17 19 10 - 82

Havre 17 19 14 22 2 - 74 

COLUMBIA FALLS — Mark Robison 12, Jace Hill 17, Hunter Goodman 15, Cody Schweikert 15, Alihn Anderson 11, Reggie Sapa 7, Bryce Dunham 5.

HAVRE — Xavier Butler 18, Crawford Terry 16, Reid Kato 11, Tre Gary 9, Jackson Headdress 6, Shance Patascil 6, Carter Spangler 5, Kash Keller 3.

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Cody Schweikert with a shot over Havre. (JP Edge photo)

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Jace Hill, left, is fouled by a Havre defender. (JP Edge photo)

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