At full strength, the Corvallis girls could have matched Browning’s size.
But without 6-foot-3 junior Isabel Evans, who was a late scratch as she recovers from a minor volleyball injury, Browning and 6-foot-2 Tamika Guardipee in particular were able to control the paint Friday and top the Blue Devils 53-30 at the University of Montana’s Adams Center.
Guardipee finished with a game-high 21 points in the Western A Tip-Off tournament matchup.
“The Guardipee girl was tough, really tough,” Corvallis coach Andy Knapp said post game. “I thought my girls did a better job in the second half, though. They were out-sized, but I thought they worked hard at it.”
Corvallis seniors Denali Smith and Lilly Berry teamed up to slow Guardipee and fought for a combined six points. Fellow senior and one of the team captains, Calla Haldorson set the Blue Devil pace with a team-high 11 points.
“I think we looked good, but we weren’t having shots fall,” Haldorson said. “Other than that, I’m liking what I’m seeing.”
Browning, coming off a 19-7 season and state appearance last year, was too tough though in the Corvallis season opener. Charissa and Chaslin Kipp each finished with six points and eight Browning girls scored overall.
“I consider that one of the better teams in the state,” coach Knapp said. “…That’s a really, really good Browning team and it’s not just one girl, it’s all of them.”
The Corvallis boys ran into a similarly tough Browning squad in the Friday nightcap. Last year’s Northwest A champs topped the Blue Devils 61-36, pulling away in the second half from a slim 9-8 first-quarter lead. Six-foot-7 Tyree Whitcomb paced Browning with 23 points and every boy but one in the Browning book scored.
Corvallis’ Caleb Warnken led his squad with 13 points and Garrett Brown added 11 more.
“The kids, they didn’t back down,” Corvallis coach Andy Knapp said. “There were a couple minute stretches where (Browning) made its run. Other than that, we were right with them.”
Both Blue Devil squads take on Libby Saturday afternoon to finish out the Tip-Off tourney. The Browning boys and girls draw Butte Central.
Loyola Sacred Heart started off its season with a win Friday, stopping Shepherd in the Shelby Tip-Off Tourney, 64-40. Jack Lincoln and Cooper Waters each scored 12 points to lead the Rams and Jacob Hollenback added 10 points.
Missoula Big Sky picked up its first win against visiting Billings Senior, 57-49. Camdyn LaRance had a big night for the Eagles with 21 points. Daniel Morin chipped in with 12 points.
Parker Hotsinpiller scored 14 points for Florence but the Falcons lost to Belt, 56-37, in the Shelby Tip-Off Tourney. The Falcons spotted Belt a 12-4 lead in the first period and it sat the tone for the game.
Frenchtown held off a late rally from Ronan at the Western A Tip-Off to win 57-52 on Friday. Zack Baker scored 17 points and Cade Baker added 12 more to lead the Broncs. Anthony Camel scored 18 points to lead Ronan.
Polson defeated Stevensville 67-56 on Friday at the Western A Tip-Off. Colton Graham scored 17 points and Kordell Walker and Trevor Schultz each added 12 as Polson held Stevensville scoreless in the fourth quarter. Stevensville led 56-46 at the end of the third quarter. Colby Meeds led Stevensville in scoring with 21.
Whitefish withstood a 37-point explosion from Tanner Goligoski and went on to defeat Hamilton 71-65 in overtime at the Western A Tip-Off. Lee Walburn scored 24 to lead the Bulldogs who outscored the Broncs 15-9 in the extra period. Justin Conklin added 13 points for Whitefish in the win.
Darby made quick work of Lincoln, winning 75-33. Nelson Smith scored 27 points and Dylan Parks added 18 as Darby jumped to a 47-25 lead by halftime. Nathan Brown led Lincoln with 15.
Missoula Sentinel opened the season with a 46-40 win over Billings Skyview on Friday. Alex Germer led the Spartans with 14 points and Hayden Kolb added 12 more. Julius Mims led Skyview with 11 points.
Owen Mercado scored 18 points to lead Seeley-Swan past Drummond 66-49 on Friday. Four Seeley-Swan players scored in double figures as Chance Johnson added 17 while Dakota Wood and Cordell Turner each added 14. Jonah Parke led all in scoring with 20 points for Drummond.
Rilee Mangan scored 10 points for Florence but Belt was too much for the Falcons, winning 51-29 in the Shelby Tip-Off Tourney. Key to the outcome was a 17-3 surge by the Huskies in the third quarter.
Foreign exchange student Mariola Tesoro scored 11 points for Hamilton but the Broncs dropped a 34-31 decision to Whitefish in the Western A Tip-Off at the Adams Center. Gracie Smyley scored 14 points for the Bulldogs.
Frenchtown held off Ronan 38-28 at the Western A Tip-Off. Lauren Demmons scored 11 points and Hailey Arthur added 10 to lead the Broncs. Jaylea Lunceford scored 13 points to pace Ronan offensively.
Angel Richards and Kennedy Praast each scored 15 points to lead Stevensville past Polson at the Western A Tip-Off on Friday. Stevensville outscored Polson 24-4 in the second quarter to break open the game. Alex Pierre led Polson with 10 points.
Missoula Sentinel started hot with a 25-2 first quarter and went on to defeat Billings Skyview 63-26 on Friday. Lexi Deden scored 19 points to lead the Spartans and Kodi Fraser added 18. Brooke Berry led Skyview with nine.
Missoula Hellgate dropped at 66-12 dual decision at Kalispell Flathead. Dakota Friesen (285) earned win by fall for the Knights.