By BENJAMIN KIBBEY
The Western News
RONAN After a hard-fought northwest Class A district tournament, the Libby High School boys basketball team is moving on to divisionals.
On Thursday, Libby capitalized on a scoreless second quarter by Whitefish to roll away with a 20-point win.
Libby jumped out to a 19-8 lead after eight minutes of action and led 32-8 at the half.
Whitefish made some gain on offense in the second half, while the Loggers lagged in scoring compared to their first two quarters, but the Libby lead was too much for the Bulldogs to overcome.
A first-round bye for Polson saw the Pirates and Loggers facing off again Feb. 16 in the semifinal. Polson got that bye by beating Libby 63-54 on Feb. 10.
In the semifinal Friday, the Pirates seized a 12-point lead in the first quarter, and the Loggers were only able to shave that lead to 9 points at the half.
Polson and Libby paced one another through the second half, each making 28 points, and ending in a 59-50 Polson victory.
On Saturday, the Loggers started consolation play with a 54-53 win over Columbia Falls.
Libby took a 3-point lead in the first quarter, but really made distance in the second, establishing a 33-14 lead at the half.
The Wildcats pushed back, scoring 18 points to Libbys nine in the third quarter, and outscoring them again in the final quarter by nine points. But the Loggers managed to hold their ground and advance to the consolation final against Browning.
The Indians took a narrow lead early, ending the first quarter 10-8, but before the half they broadened their advantage another 9 points.
The Loggers did not yield easily, and in the third quarter more than doubled their scoring for the game so far. Yet, even as the Libby offense heated up, Browning kept pulling ahead, scoring 48 points in final half.
Prior to playing Whitefish, Peck and fellow senior Logan Christensen said they felt they could take the championship if they could keep their team energy high through the full four quarters of every game.
Libby Head Coach Josh Bean said the team intended to take every game seriously, noting that even Whitefish had a lot of physical strength and is well-coached.
Though the Loggers did not take the tournament win they wanted, they will still advance to divisionals on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 9:30 a.m. in Butte, where their first game will be against Hamilton.
Libby 50, Whitefish 30
Libby 19 13 10 8 50
Whitefish 8 0 10 12 30
Libby Brian Peck 7, JJ Davis 12, Ryggs Johnston 11, Jay Beagle 6, Nik Jones 7, Keith Johnson 7.
Whitefish Justin Conklin 3, Brendyn Peacock 2, Mark Anderson 4, Sam Menicke 5, Ryan Kemm 8, Lee Walburn 5, Dillon Botner 3.
Polson 59, Libby 50
Polson 22 9 13 15 59
Libby 10 12 12 16 50
Polson: Asa Askan 9, Robin Erickson 15, Trevor Schultz 2, Connor Lanier 12, Shade Main 17, Sam Schultz 3, Micah Askan 1.
Libby: Brian Peck 1, Ryan Goodman 2, Ryggs Johnston 25, Jay Beagle 1, Nik Jones 8, Keith Johnson 13.
Loser Out Game
Libby 54, Columbia Falls 53
Libby 12 21 9 12 54
C-Falls 9 5 18 21 53
C-Falls: Austin Green 6, Tucker Salmonsen 9, Drew Morgan 8, Lowell Panasuk 7, Quinten Schriver 9, Logan Bechtel 1, Matthew Morrison 13.
Libby: Brian Peck 1, JJ Davis 4, Ryggs Johnston 29, Logan Christensen 4, Nik Jones 3, Keith Johnson 13.
Browning 72, Libby 50
Browning 13 26 22 11 72
Libby 13 16 10 11 50
Browning Nano Stiffarm 16, Derek Loring 3, CJ Smith 4, James Gilham 2, Peyton Crawford 8, Justin Burd 4, Deion MadPlume 5, Tyree Whitcomb 11, Latrall Bullchild 1, Brandon Aimsback 18.
Libby Brian Peck 7, JJ Davis 3, Ryggs Johnston 20, Jay Beagle 2, Logan Christensen 3, Nik Jones 6, Keith Johnson 6,Tim Goodman 3.