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State AA boys: Missoula Hellgate, Billings West to meet for title 30 years after iconic matchup

Posted at 9:44 PM, Mar 10, 2023

BUTTE — The Class AA state tournament had the semifinals games at the Butte Civic Center on Friday. The Missoula Hellgate Knights and the Billings West Golden Bears won their respective semifinal games to set up a rematch of their iconic title-game meeting from 30 years ago.

Billings West 52, Kalispell Glacier 43

The first quarter was a back-and-forth battle and closed out with West leading Glacier 16-14. In the second quarter the two teams went blow for blow, each scoring nine points and the Bears held their two point lead and were up 25-23 at the half.

West took over in the third quarter, outscoring Glacier 15-9 to go up 40-32 heading into the final eights minutes. The Bears held their lead and closed out the game with a 52-43 win to secure their spot in the State Championship game, chasing their first state title since since 2012.

Billings West was led by Cooper Tyson who had 19 points on the day. Glacier was led by Cohen Kastelitz who finished with 14 points.

Missoula Hellgate 56, Bozeman 49

It was all Hellgate in the first quarter as the Knights led 13-8 after the opening eight minutes. The Hawks got rolling in the second quarter to outscore the Knights 15-13, but it was still Hellgate who led at the half, 26-23.

Bozeman outscored Hellgate 16-15 in the third quarter to make it a two point game as the Knights clung to a 41-39 lead with eight minutes to play. After a back and forth opening four minutes of the quarter it was Hellgate who took over and outscored the Hawks 15-10 to win 56-49 and punch their ticket to the championship game.

The Knights will be chasing their first state title since being named co-champions in 2020 with Billings Skyview, and their first outright title since 2013. Hellgate was led by Easton Sant with 17 points. Bozeman was led by Kellen Harrison who had 15 points.

Championship Implications

The meeting between the two No. 1 seeds in the Knights and the Golden Bears sets up a rematch of their iconic 1993 state championship that is regarded as one of the greatest basketball games in Montana history that the Knights won 71-68 in double overtime.

The two teams most recently met in a state title game in 2005 when it was also the Knights who won, 55-49.