MISSOULA -- On Friday afternoon the semifinal round of the Western AA divisional boys basketball tournament was held at Missoula Sentinel High School. The No. 1-seed Missoula Hellgate Knights and the No. 2-seed Helena Capital Bruins cruised to the championship game that will be played on Saturday night.
Missoula Hellgate 81, Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack 54
In the first semifinal game of the day it was the No. 1-seed Hellgate Knights taking on the No. 4-seed Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack. In the opening half, Hellgate came out shooting as it scored 18 first-quarter points. However, Glacier didn't let the game get out of hand early as it scored 22 first-half points and only trailed by 11 at the conclusion of the half.
A big part of Glacier's first-half success came from Anthony Heath and Jaxon Olsen. Heath ended the game with a team-high 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Olsen added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and 3 for 4 from beyond the arc.
In the second half, Hellgate came on strong and showed why it's widely considered the favorite for the state title this season. Led by seniors Abe Johnson, Cam Larance and Rollie Worster, the Knights scored 47 second-half points. Johnson finished with 18 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting from the field. Larance added 20 points and went 4 for 7 from 3-point range, while Worster finished with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field.
As a team, Hellgate finished 30 for 45 from the field and 6 for 17 from beyond the arc.
Glacier combined to go 15 for 36 from the field and 10 for 23 from 3-point land.
Helena Capital Bruins 71, Missoula Sentinel Spartans 57
In the second boy's semifinal it was the No. 2-seed Capital Bruins taking on the host and No. 3-seed Sentinel Spartans.
In the start of the first quarter, Sentinel struggled to find the bottom of the net while Capital started to pick up momentum behind back-to-back buckets from Brayden Koch and Trevor Swanson. Eventually, Sentinel's Tony Frohlich-Fair got the Spartans on the board with a smooth floater in the lane.
At the end of the first quarter, Sentinel led 14-13. However, from that point on it was all Bruins. The Capital offense erupted with 23 second-quarter points while the defense did its job holding Sentinel to 10 points in the quarter. Capital finished the half on a 16-4 scoring run.
In the fourth quarter, Sentinel started to mount a small comeback as it pulled within 11 points with less than four minutes to play in the game. However, the Bruins came alive again down the stretch, scoring eight points in the final 3:30 of play.
Capital's Swanson led the Bruins with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Koch finished with 19 points on 6 of 13 from the field and 4 for 7 rom beyond the arc. Parker Johnston added 12 more points and finished with six assists.
As a team, Capital shot 26 for 54 from the field and 10 for 21 from 3. The Bruins also went 9 for 15 from the free throw line.
Sentinel's Frohlich-Fair also recorded 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Alex Germer added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
As a team, Sentinel shot 19 for 48 from the field and 5 for 22 from 3.
The Capital Bruins and Hellgate Knights will tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday with the Western AA divisional title on the line.