WHITEFISH — Lee Walburn scored 29 points to lead the Whitefish High School boys to a win over their north valley rivals from Columbia Falls, but the undefeated Wildkats girls responded with a resounding victory in the nightcap to salvage a Thursday night split.
The host Bulldogs (6-3, 3-1 Northwest A) never trailed in the boys game, but a pesky Columbia Falls squad hung around most of the night before ultimately falling 60-45. The Wildcats pulled within 10 points by the end of the third quarter, but Whitefish drained three straight 3-pointers, one from Justin Conklin and two from Jayce Cripe, to open an insurmountable 52-33 lead.
Walburn scored 17 points in the first half as the Bulldogs built a 33-19 lead at intermission, but was matched nearly point-for-point by Columbia Falls (1-9, 0-4) senior Drew Morgan, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the opening two quarters. Dillon Botner scored nine points, all in the first half, for the Bulldogs.
In the girls game, Columbia Falls (10-0, 4-0) erupted in the first quarter and never looked back, rolling 61-27.
Sophomore guard LaKia Hill scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first quarter, as the Wildkats built a 24-8 lead after one. Hill’s big opening quarter included a four-point play to extend the Columbia Falls lead to 18-3. Ryley Kehr added 15 points and Trista Cowan 13 in the win.
The moment of the night, however, came with one minute remaining when Columbia Falls junior Kimberly Peacock checked into the contest. Peacock was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia after her freshman year and only recently returned to school after a ferocious fight with the disease. Peacock checked into Thursday’s game to thunderous applause and was on the floor as the clock’s final seconds ticked away.
Payton Kastella led Whitefish (2-7, 1-3) with 13 points.
Columbia Falls 12 7 14 12 — 45
Whitefish 19 14 10 17 — 60
COLUMBIA FALLS — Drew Morgan 23, Dillon Shipp 6, Danny Henjum 6, Logan Bechtel 3, Sam Hovde 3, William Dyon 3, Dillon Wanner 1.
WHITEFISH — Lee Walburn 29, Dillon Botner 9, Jayce Cripe 6, Justin Conklin 6, Mark Anderson 3, Sam Menicke 3, Ryan Kemm 2, Bodie Smith 2.
Columbia Falls 24 14 8 15 — 61
Whitefish 8 5 6 8 — 27
COLUMBIA FALLS — LaKia Hill 17, Ryley Kehr 15, Trista Cowan 13, Savannah Ellis 5, Josie Windauer 5, Graceann Sevesind 3, Hannah Schweikert 2, Maddie Robison 1.
WHITEFISH — Payton Kastella 13, Gracie Smyley 5, Kaiah Moore 4, Hope Brown 3, Marlee Bender 2.