What looked early on to be a blowout early on Saturday turned into the expected close game down the stretch as the Columbia Falls Wildkats basketball team held off the Browning Lady Indians to pick up a 57-55 victory.
Looking to avenge their only loss of the season, a 70-67 overtime battle in Browning Jan 17, the Kats came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter Saturday as Trista Cowan scored 10 to help Columbia Falls build a lead as large as 17.
The Lady Indians had an answer in the second quarter, outscoring the Kats 20-9 to cut the Columbia Falls lead to 35-31 at the half.
The Kats went up 37-31 early in the third quarter, but Browning used a 10-0 to grab a four-point lead before taking a 43-40 lead into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter saw eight lead changes and two ties as the teams locked into a back-and-forth battle. The Kats trailed 55-53 with under a minute to play before a Ryley Kehr three put Columbia Falls back on top by one with 52 seconds to play. A Browning turnover gave the ball back to the Kats with 28.3 seconds to play before a fould sent Madysen Hoerner to the line for Columbia Falls with 10.7 seconds to play. Hoerner made one of two to give the Kats a two-point edge and scrambling defense kept Browning from getting a shot off as time expired.
The Kats came into the game needing to win by four to capture the regular-season district title, and will have to settle for the second seed heading into next weekend’s district tournament in Whitefish.
Along with Cowan’s 21 points to lead the Kats, Kehr finished with 14, LaKia Hill scored nine, Josie Windauer and Hoerner each had five points, Savvy Ellis had two and Maddie Robison scored one.
Taylor Jordan and Veronica Reed each had nine points to lead Browning.
In boys action in Browning Saturday. The Wildcats fell to the Indians, 70-47,