GREAT FALLS — The State AA boys basketball championship is set. Great Falls High and Billings Skyview will play for the championship Saturday after winning their respective semifinals.
The Eastern AA-champion Bison took down Helena Capital to return to the title game for the first time in 15 years. Meanwhile, Skyview shot the lights out for the second day in a row, throttling Western AA champ Missoula Sentinel.
Great Falls High 61, Helena Capital 48
After 15 years, the Bison are back in the title game.
Great Falls High defeated Helena Capital 61-48 in the State AA semifinal to advance to the state championship for the first time since 2006. The Bison won the championship that year.
Cale Gundlach led the Bison with a career-high 15 points off the bench on 5-for-5 shooting from the 3-point line. Four of the junior guard's triples came in the first quarter, and the Bison needed every single one, as Great Falls led Capital by just two at the end of the frame.
"When your number's called, you're able to step up," Gundlach said about his performance. "It's this kind of a moment you've been waiting for for a while."
The Bison went on a 14-2 run in the second quarter thanks to pesky perimeter defense from Levi Torgerson. Great Falls led by nine at halftime, but Capital was able to shrink the deficit to 36-33 behind strong shooting from Brayden Koch.
The Bison pulled away in the fourth. Gundlach went up top to Drew Wyman for a thunderous two-handed alley-oop dunk, and Reed Harris added a two-handed jam for good measure on a fast break in the final minutes.
"It was spur of the moment," Wyman said of his alley-oop. "Cale threw a perfect pass to me, so credit to him."
Wyman followed Gundlach with 14 points, while Harris recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Koch led Capital with 13 points, while Malachi Syvrud added 10 points.
The Bison will face Billings Skyview in the state championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. Capital will play Butte in loser-out action Friday at 1 p.m.
Billings Skyview 79, Missoula Sentinel 57
In March 2020, the Billings Skyview Falcons won their state semifinal game and then learned they wouldn't get the chance to play in the state championship thanks to COVID-19. In March 2021, the Falcons will get that chance.
Skyview dominated Missoula Sentinel 79-57 in the State AA semifinal Thursday to return to the title game one year after being co-champs. It was just the second loss of the season for Sentinel.
Payton Sanders led a relentless attack for the Falcons, finishing with 27 points.
"We just executed perfectly," Sanders said. "Sentinel is a good team, we'll give them that. But we executed perfectly, we hit our shots, we just trusted each other (Thursday)."
The first half featured six lead changes, but Skyview began to pull away in the second quarter. Abe Seybert connected on a 3-pointer seconds before the halftime buzzer to give the Falcons a 39-24 lead. Sentinel struggled to recover, though star seniors Tony Frohlich-Fair and Alex Germer finally got going late, finishing with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
Their effort was too little too late, however, as the Falcons never cooled down. After Sanders, Seybert and Camron Ketchum each scored 14 points for Skyview. For the second day in a row, the Falcons shot 50% from the 3-point line.
Skyview will meet Great Falls High in the State AA championship on Saturday at 5 p.m. Sentinel moves to loser-out action against Bozeman Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Bozeman 56, Kalispell Glacier 43 (loser-out)
Butte 63, Billings Senior 62 (loser-out)