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Wildcats drop Butte Central to take third at state A basketball tourney

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | March 9, 2024 5:10 PM


The Columbia Falls boys battled back through the consolation bracket to take third at the state A basketball tournament in Butte Saturday afternoon, beating Butte Central 58-53 in a game that came down to the  closing minutes.

Junior Reggie Sapa came off the bench to score 16 points and was 6 of 9 from the line, including hitting some key free throws in the last minute or so to ice the game against the Maroons.

Seniors Jace Hill and Cody Schweikert had 10 apiece  and Dayne Tu had 9 in the victory.

Butte shot out to a 15-9 lead in the first, but the Wildcats outscored them 20-8 in the second for a 29-27 advantage at the break.

With 3:20 left in the fourth, Central tied it at 50 apiece. Butte had chances to go ahead, but the shots didn’t drop. The Cats would score two more on free throws and then Schweikert was fouled with 1:14 left and hit both free throws to put the Cats up 54-50.

After a flurry of Butte shots, Sapa was fouled again with 30 seconds left and hit both shots to put the Cats up 56-50.

The Maroons knocked down a three with 17 seconds left and on the ensuing possession fouled Sapa again.

He made one of two and Butte couldn’t hit a trey to cut the margin. Sapa was fouled yet again with 9 seconds left and hit one of two free throws to put the game away, 58-53 with three seconds left.

Overall, the Cats had a great tourney, save for the first game against Lewistown in the opener, where they fell behind 19-2 in the first quarter and never recovered, losing 62-49.

In the consolation bracket they beat Glendive 67-61 Friday, then hammered Hamilton 71-48 Saturday morning. Hamilton had beaten the Cats by a slim margin in the Western A divisional tourney.

Lewistown and Dillon were squaring off in the championship later Saturday.