BUTTE — The defending Class AA boys basketball champions picked up where they left off the last time they played at the Butte Civic Center.
Easton Sant scored a game-high 12 points Thursday and Missoula Hellgate opened Western AA play with a 56-43 win over Butte High in the Knights' first game in the Mining City since hoisting the state championship trophy here last March.
The Knights built a 30-17 halftime lead and extended their lead to 45-27 heading into the fourth quarter where Butte whittled Hellgate's advantage to single digits in the final minutes but couldn't close the gap.
Zane Gillhouse and Chance McNulty each added 10 points for Hellgate (4-1 overall, 1-0 Western AA) .
The Bulldogs (2-3, 0-1) were led by 10 points from Ruesso Batterman.
The Knights will host crosstown rival Missoula Big Sky on Saturday while the Bulldogs will play at Missoula Sentinel.