Columbia Falls Girls Bring Home Third-Place Trophy

After being stunned in the first round by Butte Central, Columbia Falls rallied back through the consolation bracket

By Dillon Tabish

For the second year in a row, the Columbia Falls Wildkats placed third at the Class A state basketball tournament.

After being stunned in the first round by Butte Central, Columbia Falls rallied back through the consolation bracket, defeating Lewistown, Havre and then Frenchtown to claim third place.

Hamilton defeated Butte Central 58-46 to win the Class A title.

In the opening round, the Maroons rallied back from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to edge the Wildkats 49-47. Winter Kemppainen led Columbia Falls with 15 points and six rebounds and Kiara Burlage added nine points and six rebounds. Ellie Johnson added nine points.

Despite having their title hopes dashed, the girls bounced back to beat Lewistown 71-31. Allyson Gimbel and Ciera Finberg each scored 12 points and Miranda Livingston and Burlage both chipped in nine points for the Wildkats. Kemppainen scored eight points, Peyton Kehr had seven and Sydney Hovde added five.

Against Havre, Columbia Falls won 52-41 behind a balanced scoring attack that saw six girls score at least five points. Kehr led the way with 11 points and Kemppainen had nine.

In the third-place game, Kemppainen erupted for 18 points, Finberg had 14 and the Wildkats outscored Frenchtown 33-19 in the second half. Kehr added eight points, Burlage had seven and Columbia Falls won 67-34.

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