GREAT FALLS -- The State AA basketball tournaments kicked off on Wednesday with early morning first-round boys action. Helena Capital proved too much for Bozeman High in the first game, outlasting the Hawks 67-52 to move to the semifinal round. Great Falls High ran away from Kalispell Glacier 66-38 in the second game.
In the evening games, Billings Skyview outgunned Butte, while Missoula Sentinel overcame a slow first half to cruise past Billings Senior.
Helena Capital 67, Bozeman 52
Helena Capital took control in the second quarter and held on to beat Bozeman 67-52 in the first round of the State AA boys basketball tournament.
Bozeman led 11-6 after one quarter, but the Bruins picked up their defense in the second. Capital outscored the Hawks 23-11 in the quarter, capped off by a Tyler Tenney 3-pointer just before the half.
Bozeman hung around in the third, but again Capital held the momentum when Jacob Curry connected on 3-pointer at the buzzer. Jackson Basye, who shot 4 for 5 from downtown, helped the Hawks cut the deficit to as little as four in the fourth, but Capital closed the game outscoring Bozeman 24-16 in the fourth quarter.
Capital's Brayden Koch led all scorers with 25 points, including a fourth-quarter two-handed dunk to put the game away. Hayden Opitz followed with 18 points.
Basye finished with 21 for Bozeman, while Ty Huse had 10.
Capital will play in the semifinal round against Great Falls High on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Bozeman moves to loser-out action against Kalispell Glacier at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
Great Falls 66, Kalispell Glacier 38
Great Falls used a balanced attack and swarming defense to cruise past Kalispell Glacier 66-38 in the first round of the State AA boys basketball tournament.
Great Falls, the top seed out of the Eastern AA, overcame a slow start early after the Wolfpack raced out to a 7-3 lead. But much like Capital in the game prior, Great Falls clamped down on defense in the second quarter, outscoring the Wolfpack 25-11. Levi Torgerson's perimeter defense sparked the run, as he finished with four steals and six assists.
Great Falls cruised in the second half, extending the lead to as many as 33 points in the third quarter. Reed Harris led Great Falls with 19 points, while Drew Wyman had 13.
The Bison will face Capital in the semifinal round on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Glacier will play Bozeman in a loser-out game Thursday at 1 p.m.
Billings Skyview 81, Butte 58
Camron Ketchum recorded a double-double and Billings Skyview scorched the nets to beat Butte 81-58 in the opening round of the State AA boys basketball tournament.
The Falcons controlled the game from the get-go, leading Butte 23-7 after one quarter. Butte briefly cut the deficit back to 10, but that would be as close as the Bulldogs could make it. Ky Kouba scored 15 points in the first half for the Falcons, but his presence wasn't hardly necessary in the second half, as Ketchum and Payton Sanders took over. The Falcons shot 50% from the 3-point line.
Ketchum finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Sanders added 19 points. Abe Seybert tallied 11 points and six assists for Skyview.
Billy Kelly led the Bulldogs with 17 points and Jake Olson added 11.
Missoula Sentinel 66, Billings Senior 50
Alex Germer scored 28 points and Tony Frolich-Fair added 17 as Missoula Sentinel shrugged off a slow start to beat Billings Senior 66-50 in the opening round of the State AA boys basketball tournament. With the win, the Spartans advanced to the semifinal round for the first time since 2010.
Sentinel entered the game as the top seed from the Western AA, but it was Senior who came out hot in a back-and-forth first half. Jacksen Burckley scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half and connected on a last-second 3-pointer to put the Broncs up 29-24 at the break. But the Spartans opened the second half on an 11-2 run to reclaim the lead for good, capped off by a Germer 3-pointer. Sentinel held Senior to just seven points in the quarter.
In the fourth, Senior cut the deficit to 44-41 when Melo Pine hit his lone 3-pointer of the game. But Sentinel quickly put the game to rest after that, going on an 20-5 run to build its largest lead of the game.
In addition to his 28 points, Germer added nine rebounds for the Spartans. Junior Bergen led the Broncs with 14 points.
Billings Senior will play Butte in loser-out action on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.