The Columbia Falls girls' basketball team wasted little time in establishing itself as the team to beat in the Class A State Tournament with a 59-35 rout of Laurel, Thursday afternoon at the Butte Civic Center.
The Wildkats jumped out to a 14-5 lead after one quarter and opened up a 29-13 advantage by halftime.
Laurel was hampered by several turnovers in the first half and got 11 of its first-half points from Aspen Cotter.
The Locomotives hit 3 of 12 field goals in the first 16 minutes, with many of those misses winding up in the hands of taller Wildkat players.
Columbia Falls will play at 6:30 p.m., Friday against Butte Central-Havre winner.
Laurel started to find its offensive groove in the second half but was unable to climb back from a deficit that reached 25 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Sidney Hovde led the Wildkats with 15 points, while Kiara Burlage added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Locomotives were led Cotter, who scored 20.
The Locomotives will return to action at 12:30 p.m., Friday against the loser of the Central-Havre contest.
HAVRE 55, BUTTE CENTRAL 41
A tough start turned into a solemn finish for defending Class A state champion Maroons.
Butte Central shot just 18 percent from the field in the first half of its first-round game and Havre took full advantage of it, beating the Maroons.
Naomi Terry scored 26 points to lead the Blue Ponies, who will take on Columbia Falls in one of Friday’s semifinal games.
Terry connected on just six of 14 field goal attempts but went 13 for 16 at the free-throw line to keep Havre in front.
Butte Central trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter but was able to trim its deficit to five points. Havre, however, had enough fuel in the tank to keep the Maroons from completing the comeback.
Kloie Thatcher scored 13 points to lead Central, while Olivia Bolton added 12.
BELGRADE 60, CORVALLIS 53
Last year, the Panthers didn't even make their divisionals tournament. This year, they're heading to the state semifinals after defeating the Blue Devils.
Belgrade will play Hardin at 8 p.m. Friday night. Corvallis will face Hamilton at 2 p.m. on Friday.
The Panthers were led by Shania Neubauer with 17 points. Corvallis was led by Calla Haldorson with 17 points and three steals.
HARDIN 69, HAMILTON 54
The Bulldogs held on to defeat the Broncs and advanced to the semifinals.
Hardin was led by senior Madisan Chavez with 15 points and six rebounds. Senior Aubrey Meiwald had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Broncs were led by senior Reilly Rostad with 15 points and two steals. Senior Rachael Ringer dominated the boards with 13 rebounds and chipped in nine points as well.
On Friday, the Bulldogs will face the Belgrade Panthers. During divisionals, the Bulldogs defeated the Panthers.