CHS girls advance to state tournament
If you were one of the lucky Columbus Cougar fans to watch Rachel Ault’s virtuoso performance in two games Saturday at the southern B divisional tournament, you know you may never see anything like it again.
Ault, benched in the third quarter by Columbus Coach Paul Barta for lackluster effort in the Cougar’s 37-33 opening win over Jefferson on Thursday, responded with a herculean effort on the tournament’s final day as the Cougars faced elimination.
The statistics tell the story. Ault’s line for Saturday’s two games, a 54-29 loser-out win over Red Lodge, and a 54-49 overtime loss to Colstrip are simply stunning. Altogether Ault scored 62 points, pulled down 17 rebounds, and made 30-of-40 free throws. Her aggressive forays to the rim drew 26 fouls in the two games, 65 percent of the fouls committed by the Rams and Fillies.
In the shellacking of the Rams -- a team that had beaten the Cougar’s twice in the regular season -- Ault had a relatively quiet first quarter, scoring only three points. But teammates Kyla Rouane and Madi Sindelar made sure the Cougars got off to a quick 4-0 start and Courtney Martinez’ offensive rebound capped the first quarter which ended with a 13-6 Columbus lead.
Rouane began the second quarter with a nifty pass to Martinez, then she and Ault combined for the remaining 18 points of the quarter, a 20-2 blitz that shattered the fragile psyche of a Ram’s team that had been inexplicably blown out 50-20 by Colstrip on the tournament’s first day. Columbus led 33-8 at halftime and cruised to the 54-29 state tournament clinching win.
Four hours later, Columbus tipped off against Colstrip in the consolation game, and the Cougars built early 15-6 and 23-15 leads, then clung to four and five point leads throughout the second half. Carli Dyba’s fourth quarter free throws made it 38-34 and Ault’s drive with under a minute remaining gave Columbus a 42-38 edge.
But defensive-specialist Hailey Campbell and Rouane both fouled out and Costrip scored the quarter’s final six points to take their first lead of the game at 44-42 with six seconds left. A long desperation Tana House inbound pass was deflected off a Filly player out of bounds with three seconds left, but House’s next pass somehow found Ault on the baseline and the senior laid it in as the buzzer sounded. Ault’s free throw gave the Cougars their only overtime lead at 49-48 but she committed her fifth foul and the exhausted and depleted Cougars watched helplessly as Colstrip score the games final six points.
The hustle of Campbell and Rouane were key in the opening win over Jefferson as Columbus forged a 36-24 4th quarter lead then hung on to win 37-33.
In Friday’s semifinal loss to eventual champion and undefeated Forsyth, Ault’s 25 points helped the Cougars crawl back from a 21-8 second-quarter deficit to pull within 46-37 in the fourth quarter but eventually fell 53-39.
Columbus (17-8) opens with Malta (23-0) in the state tournament opener Thursday in Great Falls.
Columbus 11 5 10 11 — 37
Jefferson 6 11 5 11 — 33
C: Kyla Rouane 9, Hailey Campbell 1, Madi Sindelar 2, Rachael Ault 9, Courtney Martinez 10, Carli Dyba 6.
J: Hanna Grimsrud 4, Rickelle Powers 8, Latrice Vossler 2, Darcie Bullock 3, Janessa Williams 8, Madison Powers 8.
Forsyth 18 11 10 14 — 53
Columbus 6 8 14 11 — 39
F: Alli Hert 2, Kelsey Seleg 2, Ruby Kallenbach 10, Shaunessy Bidwell 1, Raelynn Keefer 21, Kaylee Zard 17.
C: Tana House 2, Rouane 4, Campbell 2, Sindelar 2, Dyba 2, Ault 25, Martinez 2.
Columbus 13 20 10 11 — 54
Red Lodge 6 2 10 11 — 29
C: Rouane 13, Kenedy Wiggs 2, Sindelar 2, Ault 29, Martinez 8.
RL: Portia Cortner 6, Aspen Allen 3, Stephanie Kreamer 4, Lene Wipplinger 6, Natalie Hilderman 7, Zoe Cortner 2, Kendell Prather 1.
Columbus 15 10 9 10 5 — 49
Colstrip 8 9 11 16 10 — 54
C: Rouane 8, Dyba 2, Ault 33, Martinez 6.
Cols: Emma Dudley 13, Kile Denny 13, Brina Hull 11, Kendal Neumiller 10, Tyra Limpy 1, Amaya LaFranier 6.