The Wildkats survived a strong comeback bid from the Laurel Locomotives in the Class A Girls State Consolation game in Great Falls Saturday to earn a 46-44 overtime victory and the third-place trophy.
The Kats led most of the contest, but saw the Locomotives come back to force overtime before Columbia Falls held on for the win behind 16 points and five rebounds from Trista Cowan and 11 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots by Ryley Kehr.
Columbia Falls led by as many as 14 in the third quarter, but Laurel used a 19-5 run over the last four minutes of the third quarter and the fourth to tie the game at 41 at the end of regulation.
The Wildkats trailed by two with less than 20 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, but Kehr backed her way into the post and put a shot in off the glass with 12 secconds to play to tie the game at 41. Laurel had a chance to win in regulation, but Aspen Cotter’s shot was off the mark at the buzzer.
Cotter put Laurel up one with a free throw to open the extra period, but a pair of free throws by LaKia Hill and a basket by Josie Windauer gave the Kats a 45-44 lead with just over a minute to play. Both teams struggled at the foul line in the final 30 seconds of the game as the Kats missed seven straight before Kehr hit one of two with 1.3 seconds to play to seal the win.
Cotter had a chance to give Laurel the lead several times in the final minute, but missed a pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining and her final shot with under five seconds to play.
Along with the performances by Kehr and Cowan, Hannah Schweikert finished with six points and three rebounds, Hill had five points, five rebounds and three assists, Windauer had four points, Madysen Hoerner had two points and nine rebounds and Maddie Robison had two points.
Aspen Cotter led Laurel with 16 points and Maeson Cotter added 10.
With the win, the Kats finish 3-1 at the Class State Tournament to earn the third place trophy.