The Libby High School boys basketball team took a 67-52 loss to the Browning Indians Saturday following their 55-36 win over the Columbia Falls Wildcats Thursday.
Against Columbia Falls, the Loggers played their most consistent and complete game of the season so far, said Libby Head Coach Josh Bean.
“We came out right away, and we were able to control the game with our offensive tempo, and we played some great defense,” he said.
Libby held the lead the entire game against the Wildcats, and led 55-32 late in the fourth quarter. The Indians were able to gain a little ground in the final minutes, but were unable to overcome the double-digit Logger advantage.
“We never really allowed Columbia Falls any momentum. We just kind of controlled it. I was really, really happy with the way the kids played,” Bean said.
The Logger defense was outstanding, he said, and Libby did well with rebounding throughout the game. He could not think of a single letdown on either the defense or the offense all night.
Every team that Libby will face in the Northwest A is going to be tough, Bean said.
“There’s always going to be teams that make runs,” he said. “But we really never allowed Columbia Falls to make a run.
Against the Wildcats, Bean noted the defensive work of seniors Tim Goodman and Kevin Barnes while facing a good post player on Columbia Falls.
Barnes and Goodman kept the Wildcats post from being effective, opening up the opportunities for the Loggers to get things done.
But Saturday would not go as well for Libby. Though they turned around their play in the second quarter, the Indians were able to take too substantial of a lead to overcome after the first quarter.
Browning has a unique style that the Loggers don’t see in the rest of the conference, Bean said. Though they knew what to expect, Libby wasn’t “settled” coming into Saturday.
The high-pressure defense from the Indians coupled with experienced and talented players can make it very difficult to run an offense or pass the ball without losing it to a steal, Bean said.
“Once we kind of settled into things, we were able to do some good things,” he said.
The Loggers had trouble keeping possession during the first quarter, Bean said.
“We had a terrible start to the game. Their pressure and activity flustered us, and we had a bunch of turnovers to start the game,” he said. “And we didn’t value the possession of the ball very well.”
But once Libby was able to pull themselves together, it was a very different game.
After the first quarter, the scoring stayed fairly even, with the Loggers out-scoring the Indians 46-45.
When Libby faces Browning again, they will have the lessons of this meeting to build from.
“We’ll be more prepared for it, definitely, and break down some film and look at some things,” Bean said.
Yet, the Loggers are still going to have to keep their heads together and execute.
“We’ll definitely be more tuned up and ready for it, but, if we throw a bunch of turnovers again, it’ll still be the same result. So, we’ll have to take care of the ball,” Bean said.
Libby came into this first face-off with Browning with the tools in their toolbox to counter the Indian defense, Bean said.
“We have a press break to what they were doing, but we were just throwing the ball all over the place, and they were stealing it,” he said.
The Loggers had some consistent performance, with senior Ryggs Johnston once again leading the scoring with 27 against the Wildcats and 21 against the Indians.
Bean said that sophomore Jay Beagle -- who has been a strong utility player for the Loggers -- had a good weekend overall running point guard.
The Loggers will play next in the Battle of the Kootenai in Eureka today at 4 p.m. On Saturday they travel to Polson, and will play at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 4
Libby 55, Columbia Falls 36
L: 11 20 12 12 - 55
CF: 2 13 9 12 - 36
Libby: JJ Davis 8 points, 2-4 FT; Ryggs Johnston 27 points, 3-3 FT; Jay Beagle 9 points, 3-7 FT; Tim Goodman 3 points, 3-4 FT; Keith Johnson 8 points, 2-4 FT
Saturday, Jan. 5
Browning 67, Libby 52
B: 22 12 14 19 - 67
L: 6 13 15 18 - 52
Libby: JJ Davis 4 points; Chandler Bower 2 points, 0-1 FT; Ryan Goodman 2 points; Ryggs Johnston 21 points, 8-10 FT; Jay Beagle 5 points, 3-4 FT; Caden Williams 8 points, 4-4 FT; Keith Johnson 8 points; Kevin Barnes 2 points