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After rocky start, Helena Capital boys showed ‘grit and toughness’ to get back to state tournament

Helena Capital BBB
Posted at 10:29 PM, Mar 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 11:54:06-05

HELENA — The Guy Almquist-led Helena Capital boys basketball team missed the state tournament for the first time in a long time last year after winning the Class AA state title in 2022. And Thursday the Bruins will be headed back to state this weekend in Missoula.

The guys will enter tournament play as underdogs with nothing left to lose. The same thing was true at divisionals last weekend at the Butte Civic Center where the Bruins once again booked their ticket to state.

Almquist, who has coached at Capital for nearly two decades, spoke about how proud he was of this squad who fought hard all year long,

"What I appreciate most about this group is they just kept working, they showed up every day, knew they were close, learned their lessons and tried to get better," he said. "They were rewarded for it on Saturday. And so, for that I was really grateful."
During divisionals, Kyler Meredith and the boys cruised passed Kalispell Glacier in the first round, then lost by three points, 41-38, in the semifinals to No. 1 seed and eventual Western AA champion Missoula Hellgate. The Bruins would then go onto finish the weekend on a high note, securing the fourth seed out of the West after besting Missoula Big Sky in a loser-out game.

For Bruins senior leader Cole Dawes, making it this far was just one of their preseason goals, but an even bigger one lies ahead: The coveted state championship.

"It would mean the world to us," Dawes said. "I mean, we have all been dreaming about this, I have been dreaming about it since sophomore year with Brayden Koch — that was one of the best things I have ever experienced, so I am just really excited and really hoping we can bring the banner home."

Dawes and fellow seniors Dane Quinn and manager Barrett Hageman have been catalysts for the Bruins all season long. With Dawes, the Bruins' big man has become quite the sniper from 3-point range lately,

"I've always known he could shoot it (decent) from there, but my fear is that when you start letting him do it, (then) he forgets the key," Almquist said. "We made some adjustments and it has helped us. Yeah, right now, he's probably our best shooter, so to have your 5-player be a guy who can pick and pop, that's a big advantage."
And Quinn anchors the defensive side of the ball while getting to do his favorite thing while on the court,

"Take charges, every time I take one, I look up at the (official) and make sure it's a charge, I always look at the bench and see everyone on their feet. It really gets me going and helps motivate me for the next possession coming down on defense," said Quinn.

While the regular season may not have been what the Bruins had hoped for at the start of the year, Almquist credits his entire team for staying the course and remaining tough throughout, especially during the divisional round.
"Sometimes the difference between getting to the state tournament and not getting there is just a shot here or there. ... Maybe some grit and toughness on your part as well, we think we had a lot of that last weekend, which helped us get here this week," he said.
Almquist will be looking for that same toughness to show up this weekend in Missoula as well.

Helena Capital BBB
Head Bruins Coach, Guy Almquist preparing his squad for the 2024 State Tourney

The Bruins will head off to state early Thursday morning and will take on the divisional champs out of the East, Billings West, at 8 p.m. in Dahlberg Arena.