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Loggers take the Bulldogs to the pound

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | January 26, 2021 7:00 AM

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Libby Sophomore Cy Stevenson drives down the court during the Loggers’ Jan. 22 game against Whitefish. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

After duking it out for the first half, the 2-4 Libby Loggers collared the Whitefish Bulldogs 52-39 on Jan. 22.

Exiting the locker room afterward, a few of the Logger players saw the victory as a potential turning point in their season. While head coach Josh Bean offered a more sober analysis of the game, he was nevertheless excited by the win.

“It’s one game,” he said. “But definitely their effort tonight, their execution tonight, is something to build on. Hopefully, they recognized what they are capable of doing.”

Juniors Caden Williams and TJ Andersen were the Loggers’ top scorers with 25 and 19 points respectively. Standing at six-foot-four inches, both Williams and Andersen proved to be offensive assets to the Loggers inside the paint and outside the three-point line.

Whitefish junior Bodie Smith led the Bulldog pack with 13 points.

During the first two quarters of the game, Libby and Whitefish remained neck-and-neck. While a string of three-pointers from Williams, Andersen and senior Jay Beagle gave the Loggers an early lead, the Bulldogs were able to close the gap.

The second quarter opened with a fast-paced shootout. The score jumped to 20-20 within the first two and a half minutes. For the remainder of the half, both teams vied for an advantage. The Loggers closed out the second quarter ahead 24-22.

After the game, Bean said he had expected the tight game to continue into the second half. Previous matchups between the Loggers and Bulldogs have come down to the buzzer or gone into overtime.

But the Loggers instead decided to break tradition.

The Loggers began to pull ahead from the Bulldogs in the third quarter. Bean attributed the shift in momentum to Libby’s defensive hustle.

It helped that Whitefish had to pull six-foot-five inch junior Talon Holmquist at the start of the third quarter after he got into foul trouble. Without Holmquist on the court, Bean said the Loggers were able to secure more rebounds and get in more stops.

Williams helped Libby forge ahead scoring 10 of the team’s 11 points that quarter. The Loggers’ closed out the third quarter with a 35-26 lead.

In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs made a push to regain control of the game. With three minutes on the clock, Whitefish closed the margin to 44-37. While the aggressive full-court press the Bulldogs mounted at the end of the game put pressure on Libby, it also led Whitefish into foul trouble. Williams went four for four at the free throw line. Sophomore Cy Stevenson and Andersen both went two for two.

Coming off the court, Andersen said it felt like the Logger squad was starting to play better as a unit. Beagle noted that after losing a few players to injuries and quarantines the week prior, the Loggers were back at full force. Libby went into their Jan. 15 game against Ronan missing Williams and juniors Ryder Davis and Ivan Cano.

Andersen was confident about Libby’s matchup the following day against Ronan.

“I think it's going to be pretty close because they’re a good team too,” he said. “But I think if we play like we played tonight we’ll win.”

The Loggers fell to the Ronan Chiefs 47-41 in their Jan. 23 away game.