The Wildkats survived a sluggish start to pull away for a 59-30 home win over Stevensville Saturday behind 26 points from sophomore guard Maddie Robison and 12 rebounds from junior forward Madysen Hoerner. Up by just six at halftime, the Kats used a 22-3 third quarter run to a 25-point lead heading into the fourth.
“We didn’t come out ready to go and we had two missed defensive assignments early that let them go up 5-0 early. We responded well after a slow start, though, and came out the way we wanted to in the second half,” Wildkats head coach Cary Finberg said.
The Yellowjacks scored the first two baskets of the contest to go up 5-0 before Robison got the Kats on the scoreboard with the first of her six three-pointers in the contest.
Robison added another three moments later and scored all eight Wildkat points as Columbia Falls took an 8-7 lead after one quarter of play.
The Kats continued to struggle from the field, falling behind 15-14 with under three minutes to play in the half before using a 7-0 run to grab a 21-15 advantage at the break.
The Kats looked like a different team in the third quarter, using increased defensive pressure to force several Yellowjacket turnovers and spark the Columbia Falls fast-break offense.
“We picked up our defensive intensity in the second half and forced them to play our style of game. The first half was more of a half-court game. It’s slow and not the way we want to play,” Finberg said. “We were able to get into transition more in the second half, which kept their defense from being able to set up and it got our offense going.”
Josie Windauer and Hoerner controlled the paint in the third quarter while LaKia Hill found the range for a pair of long jumpers. Robison also continued her barrage from beyond the arc in the third, draining a trio of threes to push her point total to 24 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
The Kats led by as many as 32 in the fourth quarter en route to the win as several players came off the bench to make contributions in the final eight minutes, including Lauren Falkner, Madeline Stutsman, Grace Gedaman and Jenisha Green.
“Maddie Robison had a good game for us offensively and Maddy Hoerner and Josie Windauer did a great job of controlling the paint for us in the second half,” Finberg said. We also had some great contributions from some bench kids. Lauren Falkner and Grace Gedlaman came in and gave us some solid minutes on the post. I thought we played two good quarters and two fairly average quarters, but it was good to see the kids respond at halftime and make the changes we wanted in the second half.”
Robison’s 26 points led the way for the Kats while Windauer and Hill each scored eight, Hoerner had six, Gedlaman scored three and Falkner, Alexis Green, Madeline Stutsman and Jenisha Green each scored two.
The Kats will look to improve to 4-0 Thursday as they travel to Glacier to take on the Wolfpack.
“Glacier is a very athletic team and they have some good players with some size. For us to be successful against them, we can’t have just one good half,” Finberg said.
The game will be the Kats’ last of 2019 as the team resumes play after the Christmas break Jan. 2 as they host Bigfork for the annual Columbia Falls Hall of Fame game.