The Libby High School girls basketball team is going to the state tournament as the third seed from the Western A Divisional, losing only once all weekend in a 37-33 loss to Columbia Falls.
Libby Head Coach Wally Winslow spoke with a lot of pride in the performance the Lady Loggers gave at the divisional tournament, throughout every game. He said it was the best weekend of basketball the team has had this season.
“The girls played great. It was an outstanding weekend,” he said.
That included broad contributions from across the team, and Winslow listed off a large chunk of his roster as he talked about moments that stood out, from senior Samantha Miller coming off the bench against Ronan to hit four 3s, to the consistent play on both defense and offense from seniors Sammee Bradeen and McKenzie Proffitt throughout the weekend.
The Lady Loggers started the tournament with a game against Hamilton that went into overtime.
Winslow called out the great performance by senior Alli Collins in the first two games, especially against Hamilton, where she went 4-5 at the free throw line in overtime, and added another two at the basket to clinch the 34-29 Libby win.
“She played really well,” he said. “And then, again, throughout different games -- It kind of depended on which game we were playing in -- But, lots of kids scored points.”
Going back to how things came together at the tournament, Winslow reflected on the period around the middle of the season when senior Jayden Winslow was out with a knee injury, and the Lady Loggers had to figure out how to make their dynamic work without her.
“It was a hard adjustment -- Jayden does so much for us -- But I think the lessons they learned during those games that Jayden wasn’t playing, I think it finally came forth in the divisional tournament,” he said.
There had been some readjustment after Jayden returned, but Winslow said that having that experience of working with what they had helped them to become that much more adaptable and difficult for other teams to pin down.
“What I saw in the divisional tournament was kids who were willing to make a play, kids that were willing to try to do things that they hadn’t done early in the season,” he said.
With Jayden Winslow back in her groove and the rest of the team firing on all cylinders, it all came together, he said.
In their only loss of the tournament, the Lady Loggers fell behind by ten points to Columbia Falls, but fought their way back to within four points of the Wildkat lead, he said.
All the games they played were tough and competitive, he said. Even the 12-point win over Ronan -- were he noted junior Syd Gier giving the team a lift with a 3 coming off the bench -- didn’t come until later, with most of the game being close.
“The kids just competed really, really well. They got down, but they never got out. They found ways to fight back,” he said. “Their grit and their mental toughness was some of the best I’ve coached in a long time.”
Against Butte Central, Winslow noted the defensive contributions of seniors Emma Gruber and Linsey Walker, who kept the Maroons’ Tricia Joyce on lock.
Looking ahead to the state tournament in Great Falls next weekend, Winslow said that he looks for the Lady Loggers to keep building on that.
The Lady Loggers will face Havre in their first game at state, whose only loss for the season came at the Eastern A Divisional, where they lost one game by two points.
“We open up with the number one team in the state,” Winslow said. “So it’s going to be a big challenge for us getting ready for Havre, but we’re excited for the opportunity.”
Winslow said that opportunity has been a theme throughout the season, as he has been encouraging the girls to be aware of and capitalize on opportunities when they come.
And the two weeks between divisional and state is another opportunity he said they will be taking advantage of, as they break down film and work on their own game to prepare.
Still, Winslow came back to how proud he feels the Lady Loggers should be of what they have shown about themselves on the court and the way they have learned to pick up for each other and make things work no matter what comes at them.
Western A Divisional
Thursday, Feb. 21
Libby 34, Hamilton 29 (OT)
L: 4 9 6 8 7 - 34
H: 4 5 14 4 2 - 29
Libby: Alli Collins 13 points, 5-8 FT; Emma Gruber 8 points, 1-1 FT; Jayden Winslow 3 points, 1-2 FT; Sammee Bradeen 4 points, 0-1 FT; McKenzie Proffitt 6 points.
Hamilton: Lauren Ryter 11 points; Jorden Taggart 8 points; Maggie Ringer 4 points; Abby Johnson 4 points; Mariola Tesoro 2 points.
Friday, Feb. 22
Columbia Falls 37, Libby 33
CF: 6 9 13 9 - 37
L: 8 6 10 9 - 35
Libby: Alli Collins 11 points, 2-2 FT; Emma Gruber 5 points, 3-4 FT; Jayden Winslow 10 points, 1-2 FT; Sammee Bradeen 4 points; McKenzie Proffitt 3 points, 3-6 FT; Taylor Holm 2 points, 0-1 FT.
C-Falls: Ryley Kehr 17 points; Trista Cowan 10 points; Josie Windauer 7 points; Savvy Ellis 3 points.
Saturday, Feb. 23
Libby 36, Butte Central 30
L: 9 7 2 18 - 36
BC: 5 2 10 13 - 30
Libby: Alli Collins 9 points, 4-7 FT; Jayden Winslow 14 points, 7-8 FT; Sammee Bradeen 4 points, 0-2 FT; McKenzie Proffitt 9 points, 1-3 FT.
Butte Central: Tricia Joyce 9 points; Sophie Thatcher 8 points; Emma Keeley 4 points; Amira Bolton 4 points; Shea Davis 2 points; Delaney Hasquet 2 points; Madison Kump 1 point.
Libby 49, Ronan 37
L: 8 12 10 19 - 49
R: 12 7 12 6 - 37
Libby: Syd Gier 3 points; Alli Collins 4 points, 4-6 FT; Emma Gruber 7 points, 2-2 FT; Samantha Miller 12 points; Jayden Winslow 18 points, 9-10 FT; Sammee Bradeen 1 points, 1-2 FT; McKenzie Proffitt 4 points.
Ronan: Jaylea Lunceford 12 points; Tiana Ulutoa 10 points; Kieauna DeRoche 7 points; Madeline McCrea 4 points; Aislyn Baker 1 point.