HELENA — For the first time in over four years, the Helena High Bengals were able to snag a regular season victory over their crosstown rival, Helena Capital, this time by a score of 44-42.
Though the Bengals were able to come away with the victory, the early stages of the contest looked like it was destined for history as the Capital Bruins stormed out of the gates on a 10-0 run across the first three minutes.
After a timeout, the Bengals were able to settle in and put points on the board but failed to make a dent in their deficit ending the first frame down 14-5.
After an abysmal start, the Bengals found a bit of a rhythm on the back of Jaxon Lieberg who put up 11 of his game-high 18 points on the night in the second quarter to help bring the Bengals back to a 19-19 tie late in the first half.
The Bruins were able to pull away slightly near the end of the first half on two made free throws by Hayden Opitz and a mid-range jump shot from Joey Michelotti to bring the game to 23-19 at the half.
Through the bulk of the third quarter, the Bruins and Bengals traded runs, with Helena ending on top with a two-point lead at 35-33.
Though to start the fourth quarter, the Bruins came out in a similar manner to the first ripping off a 9-0 run and taking a seven-point lead into the late stages of the game.
But that would be the last time the Bruins found the bottom of the bucket on Thursday night, and certainly not the last time that Helena High would.
The Bruins struggled to find clean shots and missed seven straight free-throw attempts in the final frame, while Helena pulled together a 9-0 run themselves across the final six minutes of play.
Helena’s Tevin Wetzel was the only other player to break into double-digit points for the Bengals with 11, while Seniors Hayden Opitz and Nick Michellotti led the Bruins with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Both the Helena High Bengals and the Bruins next test will come against Missoula Sentinel. The Bruins will head out on the road looking to get back to 3-3 in conference play on Thursday; the Bengals will get a chance to enjoy snapping their losing streak against Capital for a few more days before hosting Sentinel on Jan. 26.