The Wildkats are headed back to the consolation final at the Class A State Basketball Tournament for the second year in a row after picking up a 43-38 win over Billings Central Saturday morning.
The Rams may have had the height advantage, but the Wildkats defense battled well in the post as Billings Central struggled shooting from the outside, making just five of 23 three-point attempts while Columbia Falls also won the rebounding battle, 36-34.
Ryley Kehr led the Wildkats with 14 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists while Hannah Schweikert finished with seven points, Josie Windauer added six points and six rebounds, Trista Cowan had five points and seven rebounds, LaKia Hill had five points Madysen Hoerner contributed three points and five rebounds, and Maddie Robison scored three.
The Kats jumped out to an 11-6 lead after one quarter, but the Rams scored the first six points of the second quarter on back-to-back threes to grab a 12-11 advantage. Tied at 14 midway throught the second, Robison gave the Kats back the lead with a three before Kehr added a basket to give Columbia Falls a 19-15 lead at the half.
The Rams took a brief 28-26 lead lead midway through the third on a three by Solci Elletson, but four consecutive free throws by Cowan and Hoerner gave the Kats back the lead for good.
Elletson was able to cut the Wildkat lead to one with a three-pointer with 1:30 to play, but free throws from Kehr and Windauer, along with smothering defense in the final moments, helped the Kats secure the win.
With the win, the Kats advance to the consolation game at 3:30 p.m. today, where they will face Laurel in a rematch of their opening game at the tourney.