The Libby High School boys basketball team followed a 50-32 win over Columbia Falls Friday by taking down Frenchtown 68-62 Saturday.
Against the Frenchtown Broncs, the Loggers took an early lead, but lost a lot of their advantage by halftime, when they led by a single point. The second half went neck-and-neck, but Libby was able to pull out to a six-point lead by the end.
The 1-6 Columbia Falls Wildcats didn’t put up quite as strong of a fight as the 4-4 Broncs, but managed to stay close with Libby through the first quarter.
Libby junior Keith Johnson brought in all 10 points for the Loggers in the first quarter, and lead the game in scoring with 22 points. Seniors JJ Davis and Ryggs Johnston started to broaden the Libby lead in the second quarter, shooting from past the three point line.
Going into Friday night, Libby Head Coach Josh Bean said the Loggers were mindful of Wildcats senior Drew Morgan and junior Dillon Shipp.
“They’ve shown over the course of the season that they can score, and they can score really well,” Bean said. “Both of those also have a really good shot fake and dribble attack.”
Yet, Libby handled them, keeping Morgan to only two baskets outside of free throws, and Shipp never made it onto the scoreboard.
Bean said that the Loggers also executed well in dealing with Columbia Falls senior Sam Hovde, a 6-foot, 4 inch forward who has averaged around six points per game for the season. Hovde also only got in two shots Friday.
Bean gave props to Libby seniors Ryggs Johnston and Keith Barnes, as well as junior Ryan Goodman and freshman Caden Williams for their work guarding.
Having players with some length up against the Wildcats helped with distracting shooters from farther away, giving the Loggers time to react, Bean said.
Against a Columbia Falls defense with which Libby had some familiarity from past encounters, the Loggers were able to keep up their passes and cuts.
“I thought we did a nice job — one of the few times this year — a nice job of passing the ball and getting it to the right spot and sharing the ball, all the way around,” Bean said.
That allowed the Loggers to open up opportunities near the basket.
“We were able to cut down the middle and get layups down the middle, or to draw that defender and dump it off to the back side for easy opportunities,” Bean said.
Bean said he also enjoyed seeing the number of assists Libby had for the evening.
The Loggers frequently moved like clockwork on the court, with players arriving where they needed to be exactly when they needed to be there.
“What was nice to see as we were dribble-penetrating or we were penetrating with a pass, other people were moving into the next spot that was going to be available to be open,” Bean said.
“And I thought we did a nice job, early, of moving. We got some high post entries, and then dumped it down low for some layups. We did a good job with our ball fakes, getting them to extend in their zone, and then going past the zone,” he said.
The Loggers also had a good night on rebounds, both offensive and defensive, not only maximizing their opportunities but limiting the Wildcats’ as well.
“Our half-court man defense I thought was outstanding — our attention to detail with what they wanted to do — and then our execution on offense,” Bean said.
Bean also had compliments for how adaptable his players were Friday.
“The referees kind of let them play tonight,” he said.
But the Loggers took it in stride, moving past what may have been fouls in other games and just getting after it, he said. “I thought our kids did a good job of adjusting our game — and what we needed to do — to what the referees were calling.”
Near the end of the game, Bean admitted that he felt Columbia Falls made some shots the Loggers could have prevented. In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats managed to gain a little, outscoring Libby for the first and only time Friday.
“I think we might have let down a little bit with the lead that we had, and we need to take every game as a tournament game and compete until the buzzer,” Bean said.
The Loggers play at home tonight, hosting Eureka in the Ralph Tate Memorial Gym at 6 p.m. The freshman game begins at 3 p.m., with JV following.
On Saturday, Libby has senior night against Polson at home, and the boys varsity is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 1
Libby 50, Columbia Falls 32
L: 10 18 12 10 - 50
C: 7 9 4 12 - 32
Libby: JJ Davis 7 points, 2-2 FT; Ryan Goodman 2 points; Ryggs Johnston 12 points, 2-2 FT; Caden Williams 3 points, 1-2 FT; Tim Goodman 2 points; Keith Johnson 22 points, 2-3 FT; Kevin Barnes 2 points.
Saturday, Feb. 2
Libby 68, Frenchtown 62
L: 16 16 16 20 – 68
F: 8 23 15 16 – 62
Libby: Ryan Goodman 2 points, Ryggs Johnston 32 points, Jay Beagle 9 points, Caden Williams 2 points, Keith Johnson 20 points, Kevin Barnes 3 points.