Dillon’s shots don’t fall in title game loss

Dillon senior Troy Scott works against Columbia Falls’ Grant Stenger, a 6-6 post, during Saturday night’s state “A” title game between the schools. Despite Scott’s 19 points, Columbia Falls won the title, 56-47. J.P. Plutt photo


Columbia Falls squared up the state championship series with Dillon at 2-2 with a 56-47 win over the Beavers at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls Saturday night.  The two dominant teams in the Montana Class A ranks over the past decade have combined to win 8 of the past 12 state A championships.

Both Dillon and Columbia Falls teams are noted for solid play, year in and year out, stemming from the respected, and somewhat revered abilities of the team’s coaches – Dillon’s Terry Thomas and Columbia Falls’ Cary Finberg.

This year’s version of the Beavers relied on solid defense, and an uptempo pace in which ten different players routinely find the court in each quarter of each game.  This year’s Wildcats had the size to play a half-court and the athletic ability to run the court.

“They were able to shoot the three and make it, and we shot the 3 and didn’t, and therein lies the key to the game,” said Dillon coach Terry Thomas.

The Beavers could never find their shooting stroke, hitting 4-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half, and a brutal 0-of-11 after intermission, for a game total of 4-of-23 (17.4%).  Late season instant offense off the bench hero Parker Love hit 2-of-3 three-pointers to salvage Dillon’s dignity in the stat category.

Columbia Falls on the other hand, hit 7-of-10 three-pointers.  The nine extra points Columbia Falls gained on 13 fewer shots from downtown, added up to the difference in the ball game.

“In every area I thought we played well enough to win,” Thomas noted.  “The one area we didn’t – we didn’t shoot the ball well enough.”

Columbia Falls featured a zone defense and five players between 6-4 and 6-6 who could deny Dillon inside.  The Beavers, a team noted more for speed and athletic ability, lists one player at 6-4 – star senior Troy Scott.

Scott contributed his regular solid stat line with 19 points built on 12-of-13 accuracy from the free throw line, and a game-high 6 rebounds.  Eight other Beavers scored, but none over six points.

While Columbia Falls had the size inside, it was the outside shooting of senior Alex Presnell, 5-9, and junior Ty Morgan, 5-10, that spelled the difference in the outcome.  The two guards played all 32 minutes of the game with Morgan the team’s high point man with 14 and and Presnell hitting for 11 with a 3-of-4 night from the arc.  Jared Trinastich, a 6-5 senior, scored 9 points before fouling out and Jayce Fagerland, a 5-7 junior guard, contributed 9 points and hit 2-of-3 from three-pointland.


Want to read more of this story? Subscribe to either our print or

e-edition online here or call (406) 683-2331.