The Libby High School basketball team faced tough games over the weekend during the Tip Off Tournament in Missoula, losing 59-53 to Dillon on Thursday, but snapping back to snatch a 47-46 win over Corvallis on Friday.
Though the Dillon game ended as a loss, Libby Head Coach Josh Bean said he felt the loggers played well Thursday.
“We came out with good energy right away,” he said.
The Loggers anticipated and executed well against the Dillon zone defense, and did well on their own defense and rebounding, he said.
Libby dominated throughout the second quarter, ending the half with a 26-20 lead.
In the second half, Bean said that the Dillon role players stepped up, knocking down outside shots that put them into the lead in the third quarter.
By mid-quarter, Dillon had a 39-34 lead, but the Loggers came back to put themselves in one-point lead twice before the end of the quarter.
By the end of the quarter, the Beavers had a 46-42 lead, and the Loggers were unable to get any closer than a four-point spread for the remainder of the game.
“We were back and forth, and we were battling, and it was a great basketball game,” Bean said.
With such a close game with two well-matched teams, Bean said that there were some turnovers and missed opportunities at the end of the game that could have changed the outcome.
“We were right there. We just didn’t convert some possession at the end of the game when we needed to,” he said.
The next night against Corvallis, the Loggers made up for their final quarter against Dillon with a complete reversal of fortunes in the fourth quarter.
Corvallis took the lead early, leading 13-0, and by the second quarter the Loggers still trailed 20-5.
“Then we were able to kind of gain a little bit in the second quarter — not a whole lot. We still weren’t playing very well,” Bean said.
Bean started sending in some of the younger players near the end of the half as he tried to get a reset on what was happening among his team.
“The effort is non-negotiable,” he said. “When they’re out there, their effort needs to be at maximum capacity, and they weren’t playing with maximum effort. So, if they’re not going to play with maximum effort and our body language was bad, I’m going to put in younger kids and get them experience.”
The younger players finished out the half by narrowing the spread to 12 points.
Juniors Ryan Goodman and Chandler Bower, freshmen Ryder Davis and Caden Williams and senior Tim Goodman ended the half, Bean said. “And they did a great job to end the half.”
After talking the first half over in the locker room, Libby came back out to fall behind by another seven points in the third quarter, bottoming out with Corvallis leading 39-20, still short of mid quarter.
But then the Loggers started chipping away at the Blue Devil lead, Bean said.
The change was so gradual, Bean said he was surprised when his assistant coaches pointed out that -- with two minutes left -- Libby was only four points behind Corvallis.
“I didn’t even look at the score in the fourth quarter. We were just trying to fix some things and trying to execute, you know, find some positives to end the game with,” he said.
“I look up and there’s two minutes left and we’re down by four, and I’m like, ‘Well, OK, we’ve got a game now,’” Bean said.
Libby junior Keith Johnson managed to find a very positive way to end the game.
Bean said there was only five seconds left on the clock when Bower fed Johnson the ball underneath the basket, and Johnson made the game-winning layup.
“Those two had a great weekend -- those two juniors coming off the bench,” Bean said.
Johnson stood out in the Corvallis game especially, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
“And he was just a monster inside for us,” Bean said.
Regardless how the game started, Bean said he gives credit to the Loggers for sticking with the game and gutting it out, regardless the spread.
“We had to get some defensive stops down the stretch, and rebound the ball and convert -- and they did. I was really happy with the way they did things,” he said.
The Loggers play next at Whitefish on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Their next home game is Saturday in Ralph Tate Memorial Gym at 5:30 p.m.
Tip Off Tourny
Thursday, Dec. 8
Dillon (Beaverhead) 59, Libby 53
D 11 9 26 13 - 59
L 16 10 16 11 - 53
Libby: JJ Davis 4 points; Chandler Bower 2 points; Ryan Goodman 1 points, 1-4 FT; Ryggs Johnston 29 points, 7-7 FT; Jay Beagle 2 points, 2-2 FT; Keith Johnson 13 points, 3-4 FT; Kevin Barnes 2 points
Friday, Dec. 9
Libby 47, Corvallis 46
L 5 13 11 18 - 47
C 20 10 12 4 - 46
Libby: Chandler Bower 2 points; Ryan Goodman 7 points; Ryggs Johnston 11 points, 6-8 FT; Jay Beagle 4 points, 2-4 FT; Caden Williams 1 point, 1-2 FT; Tim Goodman 2 points; Keith Johnson 18 points, 4-9 FT; Kevin Barnes 2 points