By Derek Hendrickson
GREAT FALLS — The Columbia Falls Wildcats shook off some early nerves to slowly build a lead and move into the Class A State Semifinals with a 50-36 victory over the Havre Blue Ponies Thursday afternoon at the Four Seasons Arena.
Ty Morgan had a game high 19 points to help the Wildcats advance to a match-up with Laurel tomorrow night. Jared Trinastich and Grant Wallace scored nine and eight points respectively, as the two big men wore the Blue Pony defense down in the second half.
Both teams came out shaky, with Columbia Falls holding a 4-2 lead after one. Every possession seemed to be several passes long as no one wanted to make a mistake.
Columbia Falls led 18-8 at the half but it certainly could have been much more as the Wildcats missed several shots from point blank range. Columbia Falls held a 23-15 edge on the glass, including 11 offensive boards, all of which seemed to lead to a wide open shot that would go down.
The Wildcats shot a woeful 7 for 28 but held a ten point halftime edge after forcing the Blue Ponies into a 4-for-19, (21.1 percent) first half.
Morgan led all scorers with nine in the first half, five of which came in a quick burst that put the Wildcats up 11-4. Trinastich put in six points and grabbed seven rebounds in the opening two quarters. Kade Rismon and Dane Warp both put in four to account for all the Havre first half scoring.
Havre got two three pointers from Nate Rismon in the third to pull within 24-19 but a 7-0 Wildcat run that led that spanned the end of the quarter and into the fourth gave Columbia Falls plenty of breathing room and the Blue Ponies could never get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Much like the first game this afternoon the trailing team was forced to gamble and Columbia Falls benefited by breaking the Blue Pony press and getting easy baskets to avoid any sort of rally.
Havre will play tomorrow morning against Stevensville in loser out action. They were led by the 15 points from Warp, post player Kade Rismon added nine and Nate Rismon had the aforementioned third quarter threes for all six of his points.