State Basketball Tournament Recap

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Last updated: March 9, 5:33 p.m.

The Bigfork boys are back-to-back Class B state champions, coming from behind to beat Missoula Loyola 47-43 on Friday night at the Belgrade Events Center. Follow this link to read more about that game.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Falls girls rallied after losing in the opening round to finish third, earning a trophy at the state tournament for an incredible sixth consecutive season. Read more about their third-place win here.

The 2018-19 season came to a close for three other Northwest Montana teams on Saturday morning, as the Browning girls, Glacier girls and Browning boys all dropped loser-out semifinals, and it was two-and-out for the Libby Loggers, who were making their first state tournament appearance since 2011. Read below to find out how it all went down as the prep basketball season came to an end this weekend.


Brackets courtesy of

Class AA Girls

Class A Girls

Class A Boys

Class B Boys


Saturday, March 9


Columbia Falls 43, Billings Central 38

 The Wildkats won their second straight game, upending the Eastern A divisional champions and staying alive for a shot a sixth straight state trophy.

Columbia Falls (24-2) was in control from the outset, although the top-seeded Rams never went away, and even briefly pulled in front in the third quarter. But the Wildkats had an answer to ever Billings Central push and iced the game with a pair of Josie Windauer free throws in the closing seconds.

Ryley Kehr led Columbia Falls with 14 points in the win and was the only Wildkat in double-figures. Hannah Schweikert added seven points and Windauer six. Solei Elletson scored 11 points to pace Billings Central.

Columbia Falls will have a chance not only to finish in the top-three in the state for a remarkable sixth year in a row later today at 3:30 p.m., they will also have the opportunity to avenge a blowout loss in the first round of the state tournament when they take on Laurel. The Locomotives opened up a 21-0 lead on Columbia Falls Thursday in the first quarterfinal game of the tourney, eventually winning 58-29. Laurel ended Browning’s season early Saturday with a 54-23 win.

Billings C.         6         9        15       8     —    38
C-Falls             11       8        14       10   —    43

BILLINGS CENTRAL — Solei Elletson 11, Isabelle Erickson 8, Olivia Moten-Schell 6, Chloe Paharik 5, Julia Peterson 5, Melissa Hanser 3.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Ryley Kehr 14, Hannah Schweikert 7, Josie Windauer 6, Trista Cowan 5, Lakia Hill 5, Madysen Hoerner 3, Maddie Robison 3.

Laurel 54, Browning 23

The Runnin’ Indians saw their season come to a close Saturday morning in a loser-out contest at C.M. Russell High School.

Browning (17-8) won the Northwest A conference regular season title and finished second in the Northwest A and Western A tournaments despite a season-ending injury to leading scorer Tamika Guardipee late in the regular season.

Scoring and statistics were not immediately available from Saturday’s game. Laurel moves on to face Columbia Falls for the second time in the tournament at 3:30 p.m.


Helena Capital 56, Glacier 36

The Wolfpack’s season ended Saturday morning at the hands of their conference rivals.

Glacier (15-10) won a game at the state tournament for the second straight year and finished third in the Western AA conference during the regular season.

Scoring and stats from this game were not immediately available.


Hamilton 74, Browning 62

The Runnin’ Indians season came to a close Saturday morning.

Browning (23-4) made a second consecutive state tournament appearance this season after rolling undefeated through the Northwest A conference.

Stats and scoring details from this game were not available.

Friday, March 8


Browning 64, Laurel 59

The Runnin’ Indians overcame a halftime deficit and moved on to Saturday’s final day of competition with a hard-fought win in loser-out action.

Browning (23-3) will play on Saturday for the second consecutive season at the state tournament by virtue of Friday’s win, and will look to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish. The Runnin’ Indians return to the court Saturday at 10:30 a.m. where they will face off with Hamilton. If they win, Browning would play for third place at 5 p.m.

In Friday’s loser-out game against the Locomotives, Laurel took a 33-30 lead into halftime but Browning had turned things around before the start of the fourth quarter, opening a 46-43 advantage. Tyree Whitcomb had a huge game for the Indians, scoring 26 points, and junior Riley Spoonhunter added 17 more. Levi Taylor led Laurel with 17 points.

Browning        13       17      16       18   —    64
Laurel              13       20      10       16   —    59

BROWNING — Tyree Whitcomb 26, Riley Spoonhunter 17, Justin Burd 5, Latrell Bullchild 4, Blayne Deroche 4, Trevon Fisher 4, Deion Mad Plume 2, Ethan Running Crane 2.
LAUREL — Levi Taylor 17, Wylee Schnetter 13, Colter Bales 10, Gaje Leischner 7, Logan Kennedy 5, Paul O’Neil 2, Shel Osborne 2, Eli Aby 2, Emmit Renner 1.


Glacier 52, Billings Senior 33

The Wolfpack dominated the Broncs in impressive fashion and remained in the running for a third-place finish by cruising to victory in a loser-out contest.

Glacier (15-9) will play on Saturday at the state tournament for the second year in a row, and will need two wins to take home a state trophy for the first time since they finished third in 2015. That quest begins Saturday at 10:30 a.m. against Helena Capital.

On Friday against Billings Senior, Glacier was excellent from the outset, storming to an 18-4 lead. The Broncs closed the deficit to seven points by halftime, but a big third quarter put the Wolfpack comfortably ahead 43-23 entering the fourth.

Kali Gulick paced a balanced Glacier team with 14 points and sophomore point guard Ellie Keller added 13. Raley Shirey chipped in eight points, and Emma Anderson and Aubrie Rademacher each had six. No Billings Senior player reached double-figures.

Glacier             18       5        20       9     —    52
Senior              4         12      7         10   —    33

GLACIER — Kali Gulick 14, Ellie Keller 13, Raley Shirey 8, Emma Anderson 6, Aubrie Rademacher 6, Kenzie Williams 3, Kaylee Fritz 1, Allee Meyer 1.
BILLINGS SENIOR — Ellie Ostermiller 8, Bri McCauley 7, Brenna Linse 5, Lily Johnson 4, Olivia LaBeau 3, Jensen Keller 2, Cass Venner 2, Bailey King 2.


Columbia Falls 48, Libby 33

The Wildkats beat their conference rival for the fourth time in as many tries this season and remained alive with an early-morning win led by a smothering defense.

The victory also kept Columbia Falls (23-2) in contention for a top-three finish in the state for the sixth consecutive season. The Wildkats will need to win twice on Saturday to come home with the third-place trophy for the second year in a row.

In Friday’s tilt, the Western A divisional champions raced ahead of Libby 22-9 at halftime and maintained a comfortable cushion the rest of the way. Trista Cowan led the way offensively for the Wildkats, finishing with 18 points, and Ryley Kehr added 13. Jayden Winslow led Libby with 12 points in her final high school game. She will play collegiately at Montana Western next year.

The Loggers (17-11) went on an impressive run in the postseason after entering the Northwest A conference tournament as the fourth seed. They finished third in that tournament, then once again claimed third at the Western A divisional to advance to state for the first time since 2011.

Columbia Falls returns to action Saturday at 9 a.m. against Billings Central. If they win that game, the Wildkats would play for third place at 3:30 p.m.

Libby               5         4        13       11   —    33
C-Falls             12       10      11       15   —    48

LIBBY — Jayden Winslow 12, McKenzie Proffitt 8, Alli Collins 6, Sammee Bradeen 3, Taylor Holm 2, Olivia Gilliam-Smith 2.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Trista Cowan 18, Ryley Kehr 13, Hannah Schweikert 9, Savannah Ellis 2, Maddie Robison 2, Josie Windauer 2, Madysen Hoerner 2.

Browning 52, Butte Central 42

Chaslin Kipp tallied 15 points and nine different Runnin’ Indians scored to lead Browning to a comfortable win.

Kipp and the Indians will play Laurel at 9 a.m. on Saturday. With a win, Browning would move into the third-place game later in the day at 3:30 p.m.

Against the Maroons, Browning (17-7) pounced on the lead early, taking a 26-15 advantage into halftime. The win was the third of the season for the Indians over Butte Central, including a 52-18 blowout in the Western A divisional semifinals in late February.

Butte C.           7         8        14       13   —    42
Browning        10       16      14       12   —    52

BUTTE CENTRAL — Sofee Thatcher 13, Tricia Joyce 11, Amira Bolton 9, Emma Keeley 4, Bella Sorini 3, Taylor Harrington 2.
BROWNING — Chaslin Kipp 15, Taylor Jordon 8, Tatum Running Crane 6, Danaiya Polk 5, Walker Running Crane 5, Dulci Skunkcap 4, Chalissa Kipp 4, Veronica Reed 3, Lacy Goss 2.

Thursday, March 7


Bigfork 75, Poplar 60

The defending champions moved to the precipice of a second consecutive state title with an emphatic win over the Northern B divisional champions in Thursday’s semifinals in Belgrade.

Bigfork (21-2) jumped ahead early, scoring 20 first-quarter points and taking a nine-point lead after one, and the advantage swelled to 39-24 at halftime. The Vikings maintained a comfortable cushion in the second half and put away an Indians team that erased a 17-point deficit one night earlier to reach Friday’s semifinal.

Logan Gilliard scored 27 points to lead Bigfork and was one of three Vikings in double-figures. Anders Epperly added 17 points and Colton Reichenbach had 15. Wilfred Lambert led the Indians with 16.

The Vikings will meet Western B rival Missoula Loyola in Friday’s championship game, in what will be the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. Bigfork has won two of the first three matchups against the Rams, and enters the title game on an impressive winning streak. Since a 68-57 loss at home to Loyola on Jan. 26, the Vikings have won nine in a row, all by double-figures, a stretch that includes a 53-43 victory over the Rams in the Western B divisional title game on Feb. 23. Bigfork beat Loyola 70-65 in Missoula on Dec. 18.

Bigfork won the Class B state title in 2014 and 2018, going undefeated both years, and finished second in the state in 2016. Friday’s state championship game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m.

Bigfork             20       19      17       19   —    75
Poplar              11       13      17       19   —    60

BIGFORK — Logan Gilliard 27, Anders Epperly 17, Colton Reichenbach 15, Clayton Reichenbach 7, Luke Schmit 7, Levi Taylor 2.
POPLAR — Wilfred Lambert 16, Darryl Joe 14, Chris Colgan 11, Kenny Smoker 10, Wynn Main 9.


Hardin 69, Browning 59

The defending state champions broke open a tight game late in the fourth quarter and sent Browning into the loser-out bracket.

Tyree Whitcomb hit a buzzer beating 3-pointer to give the Indians (22-3) a 36-30 lead at halftime, but Hardin clamped down defensively in the second half. The Bulldogs took a one-point advantage into the fourth quarter, then broke things open midway through the final period to keep their dreams of a repeat alive.

Famous Lefthand scored 30 points to pace Hardin and all scorers. C.J. Smith led Browning’s attack with 16 points, followed by Whitcomb (15), Riley Spoonhunter (11) and Ethan Running Crane (8).

Browning will play a loser-out contest on Friday at noon against Laurel.

Browning        14       22      8         15   —    59
Hardin              14       16      15       24   —    69

BROWNING — C.J. Smith 16, Tyree Whitcomb 15, Riley Spoonhunter 11, Ethan Running Crane 8, Derek Sharp 4, Deion Mad Plume 3, Justin Burd 2.
HARDIN — Famous Lefthand 30, Trae Hugs 12, Ryan Old Crow 9, Andrew House 9, Kidd Littlelight 5, Peyton Goodluck 3, Eric Woods 1.


Billings West 41, Glacier 20

The Wolfpack never could get going offensively and fell to the Eastern AA conference champions in the opening round.

Glacier (14-9) did not score more than six points in any quarter and could not reclaim the magic of a year ago, when the underdog Wolfpack upset West in the state quarterfinals. This time around, the Golden Bears jumped in front 20-10 at halftime and never looked back.

Aubrie Rademacher led Glacier with five points. Kali Gulick and Raley Shirey added four each. West’s TyRaa Manuel (12) and TyLee Manuel (10) were the only two players in double-figures.

Glacier moves to the loser-out bracket where they will meet Billings Senior at noon on Friday.

Glacier             6         4        5         5     —    20
West                12       8        11       10   —    41

GLACIER — Aubrie Rademacher 5, Kali Gulick 4, Raley Shirey 4, Abi Manger 3, Kaileigh Crawford 3, Ellie Keller 1.
BILLINGS WEST — TyRaa Manuel 12, TyLee Manuel 10, Shayla Montague 5, Willa Albrecht 5, Kinzee Koch 3, Kendel Ellis 2, Shea Dolan 2, Laiten Lantis 2.


Laurel 58, Columbia Falls 29

The Wildkats lost for just the second time this season and saw their dreams of a state title dashed in the first game of the day in Great Falls.

Laurel, the fourth seed out of the Eastern A divisional, scored the first 21 points of the game against Columbia Falls and never looked back, taking a 33-11 lead into halftime. Trista Cowan scored eight points and Josie Windauer added seven in a losing effort.

The Wildkats (22-2) have finished in the top three in the state each of the last five seasons, and must now win their next three games to extend that streak. Columbia Falls will get conference rival Libby next, in a game that will be played Friday at 9 a.m.

Laurel              23       10      11       14   —    58
C-Falls             2         9        11       7     —    29

LAUREL — Mya Hansen 12, Aspen Cotter 9, Maeson Cotter 9, Kaitlyn Dawes 5, Sammi Spitzer 5, Morgan Maack 4, Grace Timm 4, Riley Chapman 4, Kolby Gibbs 4, Gracey Willis 2.
COLUMBIA FALLS — Trista Cowan 8, Josie Windauer 7, Ryley Kehr 5, Maddie Robison 4, Savannah Ellis 2, Madysen Hoerner 2, Hannah Schweikert 1.

Havre 62, Libby 28

The Loggers hung tight early with one of the state’s top teams, but Havre proved to be too much down the stretch and pulled away for a quarterfinal win.

Libby (17-10), seeded third out of Western A, trailed just 25-20 at halftime but the Blue Ponies outscored the Loggers 37-8 in the second half. Libby’s Jayden Winslow scored 14 points, matching Havre’s Kyndall Keller for game-high honors. Sadie Filius and Kadia Miller both added 10 more for the Blue Ponies.

Libby will try to keep its season alive in the loser-out bracket on Friday at 9 a.m. against Northwest A conference rival Columbia Falls. The Wildkats have won the first three meetings between the two teams this year, including at the Western A divisional tournament.

Libby               13       7        7         1     —    28
Havre              14       11      18       19   —    62

LIBBY — Jayden Winslow 14, McKenzie Proffitt 4, Sammee Bradeen 3, Taylor Holm 2, Emma Gruber 2, Alli Collins 2, Elise Erickson 1.
HAVRE — Kyndall Keller 14, Sadie Filius 10, Kadia Miller 10, Britton Paulson 7, Katie Wirtzberger 6, Lauren Kato 5, Kylie Walker 4, Loy Waid 2, Jessica Chvilicek 2, Sam Oliver 2.

Hardin 71, Browning 29

The Bulldogs grounded Browning’s high-flying offense and cruised to an easy quarterfinal win.

The Indians (16-7) trailed by just two points after the first quarter but Hardin outscored Browning 23-4 in the second quarter and the lead only grew from there. Hardin took a 34-point advantage into the fourth quarter. Dulci Skunkcap scored 10 points to lead the way for Browning. Marie Five finished with 22 for the Bulldogs.

Browning’s loss marked the third of the day for the Northwest A conference, which had claimed the top three seeds out of the Western A divisional. The Indians will try to keep their season alive in a loser-out game on Friday at 10:30 a.m. against Butte Central.

Hardin              13       23      23       12   —    71
Browning        11       4        8         6     —    29

HARDIN — Marie Five 22, Ivery Fritzler 14, Kamber Good Luck 12, Charlie Bellrock 6, Breanna Old Elk 6, Alyssa Pretty Weasel 5, Mashaya Alden 3, LaRue Wallace 2, Sossity Spotted Wolf 1.
BROWNING — Dulci Skunkcap 10, Chalissa Kipp 5, Taylor Jordon 4, Danaiya Polk 4, Chaslin Kipp 2, Tatum Running Crane 2, Walker Running Crane 2.

Wednesday, March 6


Bigfork 61, Big Timber 45

The Vikings marched one game closer to a second consecutive state title with a gritty win against Big Timber on Wednesday afternoon.

Bigfork (20-2) led by 10 at halftime, but the Sheepherders came all the way back to tie the game in the fourth quarter. In the end, though, the Vikings seniors pulled away late to advance to the semifinals. Anders Epperly finished with 24 points to lead all scorers and Colton Reichenbach added 17. Ethan Bullock led Big Timber with 16 points.

Next up for the Vikings is Northern B divisional champion Poplar after the Indians erased a 17-point second half deficit to beat Three Forks 68-67 in overtime in Wednesday’s first quarterfinal game.

Bigfork and Poplar’s game is scheduled to tip at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, followed by the other Class B semifinal between Colstrip and Missoula Loyola.

Big Timber       8         12      19       6     —    45
Bigfork             14       16      13       18   —    61

BIG TIMBER — Ethan Bullock 16, Kell Schwers 14, Jacob Roberts 8, Blake Finn 5, Dawson Lavarell 2.
BIGFORK — Anders Epperly 24, Colton Reichenbach 17, Clayton Reichenbach 7, Logan Gilliard 7, Luke Schmit 2, Randy Stultz 2, Levi Taylor 2.