Libby’s Keith Johnson helped keep the Loggers in the game during the first half of a Jan. 18 game against the Polson Pirates.
He snagged rebounds. He blocked a shot with enough authority to rouse the crowd. He scored eight of his 15 points in the first half. At halftime, the Loggers trailed by just six points, 29-23.
But Polson High School’s skillful mix on offense yielded a 63-44 win for the Pirates.
Johnson led Loggers’ scoring. Jay Beagle added 10 and Caden Williams scored eight. Polson’s high scorer was Colton Graham, with 21.
Polson coach Randy Kelley said his team did a good job of working the ball inside and out instead of relying on three-point shots.
“We’ve been a little bit impatient in the past,” Kelley said.
He said the inside game wasn’t as good as usual because Gunner Grisak was out with an illness.
Loggers’ coach Josh Bean said Libby anticipated a strong inside game from the Pirates and credited Johnson for defending the post. But when his teammates sagged to defend against the inside game, Polson hit threes.
“They did end up shooting well from the perimeter,” Bean said.
The Pirates hit Libby with a full-court press early on that yielded some turnovers by the Loggers. But Kelley said Libby “figured out the press.”
Bean noted that the Loggers suffered four turnovers immediately after breaking the Polson press.
“It’s never good when you get down 12-0 in the first few minutes,” he said.
Polson ultimately went to a 1-3-1 zone in the second half that proved effective.
The loss put Libby’s record at 6-2. Polson’s record left town 7-4.
In turn, the Libby Lady Loggers bagged their second win of the season against the Polson Lady Pirates. The team’s record is now 2-6.
Both squads started slowly offensively. The Loggers’ McKenzie Proffitt scored early and Libby led 8-6 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Loggers led 19-11 at half, but they really hit their stride in the second half.
“The girls did a great job all around on Saturday night against the Pirates and everybody chipped in,” said Coach Jackie DeShazer.
She praised the playing of Syd Gier.
“Syd has done an amazing job for our team all year, embodying what it means to be a point guard and leading us on the defensive end and creating and distributing on offense,” DeShazer said. “We all know she is an offensive threat from the 3-point line, as well as on the drive, and the shots started falling for her against Polson.”
DeShazer said the team was more aggressive on the offensive glass, leading to a season high for rebounds.
“This is doubly impressive because we were without Olivia Gilliam-Smith, who is consistently one of our team’s leading rebounders,” she said.
DeShazer also praised the playing of Proffitt and the rebounding of Taylor Munro.
“As a team we were willing to take open shots and that helped spread the court in the second half and we took advantage of that with good ball movement,” she said.
“Elise Erickson was integral to the win and was tough on both ends of the court, playing tough defense and making great passes. She played a ton of minutes for us.”