The Bulldogs split their first two games following the winter break, taking down the Flathead Braves before getting trampled by the Hamilton Broncs over the weekend.
On Friday the Dogs hosted the Braves for a Class A versus Class AA battle.
Whitefish held a steady lead through the game, up three points after one quarter and five at the half.
Up 39-32 in the third, a technical foul called on Jayce Cripe put the Braves to the line for a pair of free throws and a shot at a comeback. Flathead scored six unanswered to cut the lead to one, but Mark Anderson answered for the Bulldogs with a corner three to halt the run.
Anderson had 14 on the game.
The Dogs held the lead in the fourth. With three minutes to go and the Braves threatening, Lee Walburn picked off a pass and took off for a layup on the other end, getting the shot and-one. That opened up the game to a 54-45 lead for Whitefish.
Walburn had 24 in the game. Dillon Botner added 10 for the Dogs.
Head coach Scott Smith said he wasn’t elated with certain aspects of his team’s play, but altogether it was fun to pick up that win.
“Defensively, we played alright,” Smith said. “The kids played hard overall, and we were fortunate enough to come away with a win. Overall, it was good. Anytime you get a win against a Class AA school you’re going to be happy about it.”
Things didn’t go so well the following day against Hamilton, who trounced Whitefish 83-46.
The Dogs managed only eight points to the Broncs’ 28 in the first quarter, and by halftime Hamilton held a 43-17 lead.
Walburn led the team in scoring with 13. Hamilton’s Tanner Goligoski scored 29 in the blowout.
Smith said the loss was rough, but his team is going to need to learn from it moving forward.
“It was a combination of things, Hamilton played great and part of that was because we played so poorly as well. Our intensity wasn’t there, we just weren’t ready to play, for whatever reason,” he said. “They took us behind the woodshed there and beat up on us quite a bit. That’s one of those things that we have to learn from and move on.”
This week Whitefish will host rival Columbia Falls on Thursday at 6 p.m. They’ll follow that with a home game against the Browning Indians on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
While Smith said his team isn’t yet where he wants them to be, this week will be a good one to see how they’re matching up.
“I’m hoping we can clean some things up this week and be consistent with our intensity and some of our other just basic fundamentals as far as just our help defense, communication, just even being able to execute our offense,” he said. “This week’s a big week for us. We’ve got C-Falls on Thursday, and it’s a rivalry game, so throw all the records and everything else out the window. If we don’t play well, Columbia Falls can get us can get us. I know Finberg’s going to have the Wildcats ready to go, so if we’re not ready we could be in trouble”
Whitefish 14 17 11 17 — 59
Flathead 11 15 12 13 — 51
WHITEFISH – Jayce Cripe 1, Justin Conklin 3, Jack Schwaiger 2, Mark Anderson 14, Sam Menicke 2, Ryan Kemm 3, Lee Walburn 24, Dillon Botner 10
Hamilton 28 15 13 27 —83
Whitefish 8 9 16 12 —46
WHITEFISH — Jace Cripe 6, Bodie Smith 1, Justin Conklin 7, Jack Schwaiger 1, Mark Anderson 7, Sam Menicke 6, Lee Walburn 13, Dillon Botner 5.