The Wildkats had their hands full in the opening game of the Western A Divisional Basketball Tournament Thursday as they battled to earn a 65-57 win over the Corvallis Lady Blue Devils.
Led by Ryley Kehr’s 30 points, the Kats withstood a three-point barrage from the Lady Blue Devils, including seven triples by Lainie Albright.
Kehr scored 19 in the first half as the Kats ran out to a 32-21 lead, but Albright and the Blue Devils had an answer in the third quarter, outscoring Columbia Falls 20-16. Albright opened the second half with a three and added two more over the next two minutes to spark a 16-7 run that cut the Wildkat lead to 39-37 with under three minutes to play in the third.
Trista Cowan, who battled foul trouble throughout the game, answered with seven points in the final three minutes of the third and Kehr added a basket late in the period to put the Kats up 48-41 after three.
The Kats went up nine on a three-point play by Hill early in the fourth but the Lady Blue Devils cut the lead to 59-55 with 1:39 to play.
A blocked shot by Madysen Hoerner led to a Josie Windauer layup to put the Kats up six with one minute to play, but Hadli Lords answered with a basket for Corvallis to cut the lead back to four with 48 seconds to play.
The Kats put the game away in the closing moments as Kehr and LaKia Hill knocked down four consecutive free throws as Columbia Falls held on to win by eight.
Kehr’s 30 points and 10 rebounds led the Kats while Cowan finished with nine points, Hoerner had eight, Hill scored seven, Windauer had five points, Hannah Schweikert scored four and Maddie Robison added two.
Albright led Corvallis with 25 points while Calla Haldorson had 19.
With the wins, the Kats advance to face either Libby or Hamilton in the semi-final game Friday at 3:30 p.m.