WHITEFISH – Libby held its own against No. 1 seed Browning, but the Lady Indians dominated the second quarter and fought off the Loggers for a 49-39 win in the semifinals of the Northwest A District girls basketball tournament on Friday at Whitefish High School.
It was an encouraging start for No. 4 seed Libby (12-8 overall). Alli Collins buried a 3-pointer to open the game, and the Loggers stayed ahead of Browning (15-4) until Dulci Skunkcap’s offensive rebound and put-back gave the Indians a 10-8 lead with four minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Loggers slowed down the game and went into the second quarter down just 11-10. But Libby’s offense ground to a halt, as the Loggers managed just three points in the frame to Browning’s 11.
Libby coach Wally Winslow said the Indians opened with a zone designed to contain his leading scorer, Jayden Winslow, but his team struggled when Browning switched to an “extended 2-3” zone.
“They switched gears on us in the second quarter,” Winslow said, “and we didn’t really adjust very well until later in the game.”
The Loggers found the gaps in Browning’s defense in the third quarter, but the Indians’ Cha’slin Kipp — who finished with a game-high 17 points — refused to let the Loggers sniff a comeback. She opened the half with a corner triple that gave Browning a 25-13 advantage, and scored 10 points in the third to help Browning take a 38-26 lead into the final quarter.
“Browning’s a tough team to defend because they’re up-tempo. They can play inside and out, double the post, hit a 3; they can do different kinds of things,” Wally Winslow said.
Jayden Winslow opened the fourth with a mid-range jumper that cut the deficit to 10, but the Indians answered with a quick 7-0 run to take a 45-28 lead.
Wally Winslow was proud of his team’s effort, and said the Loggers needed to be more consistent on both sides of the ball to have a chance against a team like Browning.
“We had some flat spots, and they’ll put a run on you in your flat spots,” he said.
“Offensively we didn’t have good consistency ... at times we were solid and at other times we didn’t make some plays we should have made. Against a team like Browning we need to capitalize on those opportunities on the offensive end.”
Jayden Winslow paced the Loggers with 12 points, and Collins added 10.
Taylor Jordan had 12 for the Indians while Skunkcap finished with eight.
Libby takes on Polson (0-19) in loser-out action this afternoon at 2. A win would give the Loggers a place in next week’s Western A Divisional tournament in Hamilton and put them in tonight’s consolation game at 5.
“These games are the hard games ... you’ve played physically demanding games up until that point, and then you have to become mentally prepared in a very short period of time to compete again,” Wally Winslow said.
Browning will square off with Columbia Falls (18-1) at 8 p.m. for the Northwest A title.
Libby 10 3 13 13 – 39
Browning 11 11 16 10 – 49
LIBBY – Syd Gier 2, Alli Collins 10, Jayden Winslow 12, Sammee Bradeen 5, McKenzie Proffitt 6, Taylor Holm 4.
BROWNING – Chalissa Kipp 2, Cha’slin Kipp 17, Kelsey Mad Plume 1, Danaiya Polk 3, Walker Running Crane 5, Dulci Skunkcap 8, Taylor Jordon 12, Tatum Running Crane 1.
Browning 68, Libby 54
WHITEFISH – Libby was in a good position going into halftime, down just 36-31 to the Browning Indians in its Northwest A District tournament semifinal.
But in the opening minute of the third quarter, the Indians (18-1) jumped out to a double-digit lead and showed the stuff that earned them the No. 1 seed in the division.
“That was huge ... A tale of two halves there.” Libby coach Josh Bean said.
Browning’s Tyree Whitcomb started the second half with an offensive rebound and put-back, then consecutive turnovers led to easy fast-break points that gave the Indians a 42-31 lead with 7:00 on the clock.
Ryggs Johnston hit a deep triple that trimmed the deficit to eight later in the quarter, but that was as close as the Loggers (12-8) would get.
“[Browning] is a great basketball team ... When you let them get up by double-digits, they’re so good at applying the pressure and extending and just kind of keeping you at arms length,” Bean said.
Both teams got off to a hot start. Libby was able to break down a stingy full-court press and keep pace with the Indians, while Browning’s Riley Spoonhunter had nine points in the first quarter on his way to leading the team with 23.
Johnston came up big in the second quarter — hitting two triples and scoring 11 in the frame — to help the Loggers take a 24-23 lead with just under six minutes to go in the half. He finished with a game-high 27.
But the Indians answered with six quick points in transition to retake a lead they would never relinquish.
Whitcomb was a menace in the paint for Browning, scoring 21 points and snatching rebounds on both ends of the court.
“We couldn’t keep him off the boards ... he just ate us up on the inside,” Bean said.
However, Bean said his team played with “lots of effort” and executed well for much of the game.
“When we did what we were supposed to do – set good screens, catch and rip — we got some good attacks at the basket, and because they were so far extended we were able to get all the way to the basket,” he said.
The Loggers meet Columbia Falls (3-16) in loser-out action today at 12:30 p.m., with a spot in next week’s Western A Divisional tournament on the line. Browning will clash with Polson (9-11) in this evening’s championship at 6:30.
Browning 19 17 18 14 — 68
Libby 14 17 11 12 — 54
BROWNING — Riley Spoonhunter 23, Derek Sharp 2, CJ Smith 4, Brandt Bremner 8, Trevon Fisher 3, Deion MadPlume 3, Tyree Whitcomb 21, Blayne Deroche 4.
LIBBY — Ryder Davis 2, JJ Davis 5, Ryggs Johnston 27, Jay Beagle 9, Caden Williams 4, Tim Goodman 2, Keith Johnson 5.