It wasn’t pretty, but the Bulldogs got it done against Corvallis Friday, coming up with a late 55-50 win.
A slow start for Whitefish led to an 11-point deficit heading into halftime, but a strong third quarter cut the lead down to just four going into the final frame.
Whitefish finally took the lead late in the game, after Derek Kastella knocked down a three with 2:30 left to go in the fourth, putting the Dogs up 44-42. A blocked three by Sawyer Silliker sealed the deal and Whitefish was able to secure the win at the free throw line.
Silliker had five points during the final two minute run and 20 for the game. Kastella added 17 and Ryan Kemm had 9.
Tyler Nixon led Corvallis (4-10) with 16 points.
“A win is a win,” head coach Sean Duff said. “It’s good that we have games like that, be in situations where they’ve got to make free throws and play tough defense.”
Duff pointed to rebounding and reducing turnovers as points of emphasis last week, and while the rebounding had certainly improved by Friday, turnovers are still an issue.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball better, you can’t give the other team more possessions,” he said. “To beat the good teams, you can’t do that.”
The Bulldogs improved to 5-9 but are still looking for their first conference win. Currently they sit fourth in Northwest A rankings, behind Polson (10-5, 4-1), Frenchtown (7-7, 4-1) and Columbia Falls (2-13, 1-4).
Whitefish hosts Stevensville on Friday at 7:15 p.m. and Frenchtown on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The game against Frenchtown is the final home game of the season and will honor the team’s seniors, which include Silliker, Kastella, Zander Wold, Murphy Wick, Vegard Ellingsen and Tucker Blake.
Duff said his seniors have played an invaluable role.
“Their senior leadership has been great. It sets the tone for your program, to buy into hard work. It’s good for our sophomores to see that maturity on and off the court,” he said.
CORVALLIS — Laing Liedle 2, Ridge Albright 5, Kolton Mahan 5, Caeson Jessop 8, Tyler Nixon 16, Zach Jessop 8, Kobe Jessop 6.
WHITEFISH — Derek Kastella 17, Murphy Wick 3, Sawyer Silliker 20, Ryan Kemm 9, Dillon Botner 6.