KALISPELL — Kalispell Glacier started slow but finished strong, as the Wolfpack raced past Helena High 50-34 on Thursday evening to advance to the girls basketball State AA tournament.
Ellie Keller led Glacier with 19 points while Kenzie Williams added 10.
Glacier trailed Helena to start but a 3-pointer from Kaylee Fritz before the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter shifted momentum to Glacier despite trailing 12-8 to Helena. Bethany Sorensen hit another triple to start the second quarter for Glacier, and a layup from Keller gave the Wolfpack a 13-12 lead and they never trailed again. Williams drained a 3-pointer of her own not long after that as Glacier ultimately went into half up 26-17.
"I think we had a little bit of nerves," Keller said. "We have (eight) seniors on our team so there was definitely some pressure we felt, but the main thing was confidence for us (Thursday) and we had that confidence and it got us through all the way through the fourth quarter."
Helena started quickly again in the third quarter but Glacier clamped down a lot faster, and a layup from Kiersten Smith eventually gave the Wolfpack a 10-point lead in the third quarter and Glacier rolled from there.
"It’s just heart-warming," second-year Glacier coach Amanda Cram said. "I’ve coached a lot of these girls since they were freshmen at different levels and to see how much time that they’ve put in and how they have continued to work hard day in and day out no matter the challenges of this season. It means a little bit more this year than any other year but again we’re ready to make some noise at the state tournament."
The win sends Glacier to the State AA tournament for the fifth straight year.
"I’m super excited. I know the rest of the girls are," Keller added. "We’re looking forward to having so much fun and not just be there but to compete while we’re there and win some games and maybe bring home some hardware so we’re looking forward to it."