The Libby High School boys basketball team took a decisive 55-36 win against Thompson Falls in their first game of the season Saturday.
Bluehawk senior Grant Lundberg lead the game in scoring, nailing shot after shot in the second quarter to score 12 of Thompson Falls’ 14 points for the quarter.
Though the Loggers entered halftime in the lead, it was by a squeaky five-point margin.
“It was tight all the way through that second quarter, and then right there in the last, probably last two minutes of that second quarter, we were able to run our zone offense a little bit better,” said Libby Head Coach Josh Bean. That gave senior Ryggs Johnston the opportunity to go 4-4 on free throws, extending the Logger lead.
The Libby defense came back out with a vengeance in the third quarter. They cut the Bluehawks down to 14 points over the second half, as the Logger offense, led by Johnston, scored that much each quarter.
Bean said that the Libby defense wasn’t hitting its stride in the first half of the game.
“At halftime we talked about better defensive intensity and getting after things,” he said. That included getting their forwards and centers into position.
In the locker room, the Loggers knew what was going on, and what they needed to do.
“They knew we weren’t where we needed to be and they needed to amp it up and get after it, and they did,” he said.
“Our fours and our fives were nonexistent in the first half, as far as, they had some easy scoring opportunities, and we weren’t even close” Bean said.
Bean said that Libby’s guards did well throughout, “but it’s a team thing, and it takes all-around effort.”
Coming out for the second half, the Loggers switched from man to zone, but kept hard after Lundgren.
“The boys did a nice job of communicating where Lundberg was on the floor, and sticking with him,” Bean said.
While Johnston — who scored 20 of Libby’s 55 points — still dominated in scoring in the second half for the Loggers, senior center Kevin Barnes and junior forward Keith Johnson started to make their presence felt at the basket, along with junior forward Cayman Lee.
Both teams had standout players in Lundgren and Johnston, but Libby’s scoring was much more evenly distributed.
That was something Libby had practiced for, Bean said. With players such as Johnson and sophomore Jay Beagle — the only other Logger aside from Johnston to add to the score in every quarter — an opponent can’t shut their offense down the way Libby was able to shut down the Bluehawks.
Beagle was important on the defense as well, Bean said.
“One of the major spark clubs was Beagle, just gettin up and gettin after things,” he said. “He’s got really long arms, so he’s able to get up, and he got some tips and touches and disrupted them.”
But the game was also a good starting point to the season for the less experienced players who didn’t have much varsity time under their belts, Bean said.
“And I thought they did a nice job of figuring things out and fixing stuff that they were doing wrong,” he said. “We talked about, what do you do with a mistake? You’ve got to recognize it, admit it, learn from it, move on.”
The Loggers play next at the University of Montana in the Tip Off Tournament Friday and Saturday. Their next home game is Saturday, Dec. 15, against Ronan at 5:30 p.m. in the Ralph Tate Memorial Gym.
Saturday, Dec. 1
Libby 55, Thompson Falls 36
L: 13 14 14 14 - 55
TF: 8 14 7 7 - 36
Libby: JJ Davis 2 points, 2-2 FT; Ryan Christensen 1 points, 1-2 FT; Chandler Bower 2 points; Ryan Goodman 5 points, 3-4 FT; Ryggs Johnston 20 points, 9-10 FT; Jay Beagle 12 points, 2-4 FT; Keith Johnson 7 points, 1-2 FT; Kevin Barnes 4 points; Cayman Lee 2 points, 0-1 FT
TF: Nathan Schraeder 2 points; Grant Lundberg 21 points, 5-9 FT; Nate Wilhite 1 points, 1-2 FT; Kade Pardee 5 points, 0-1 FT; Trey Fisher 5 points, 1-1 FT; Riley Riffle 2 points, 2-4 FT