MISSOULA — The Missoula Hellgate offense came alive in the second half and the defense locked down the clamps in the final minutes to lead the Knights to their seventh straight girls basketball victory and a 39-36 rivalry win over Missoula Sentinel.
In the first quarter, both teams came out trading buckets back and forth. By the end of the quarter, Sentinel built a 10-7 lead.
In the second quarter, Sentinel scored right away, taking a 12-7 lead, but Hellgate scored eight points in the second, compared to Sentinel's seven points.
Coming out of the locker room in the third quarter, the Spartans attempted to pull away after a 3-pointer from Kodi Fraser made it a 24-17 lead.
But Hellgate slowly chipped away as Bailee Sayler heated up with four points in the quarter as Hellgate outscored the Spartans 14-12 in the quarter but still trailed Sentinel by two heading to the fourth.
In the final eight minutes, Hellgate continued to find the bottom of the net while its defense locked down on Sentinel.
The Spartans scored a quarter-low six points as Hellgate dropped 11 points.
Hellgate took a seven-point lead with a little more than four minutes to go, but Sentinel scored those six points down the stretch as a clutch 3-pointer from CC Size made cut the Hellgate lead to three points with just 1:30 seconds to play.
Sentinel fouled Sayler, who missed the first free throw of the one-and-one, and Sentinel called a timeout with 15.1 seconds.
After the timeout, Sentinel struggled to find a 3-point shot as Brooke Stayner hurled a last-second effort that went wide right and Hellgate escaped with the 39-36 win.
"It was super intense," said Sayler. "I think out girls on the bench, whenever I started off not being able to buy a bucket, but they kept us going. I think we wanted to get that win because last time we played them we lost at divisionals. One, it's crosstown and two, we wanted to keep that perfect record."
Hellgate's Sayler finished with 12 points while Sentinel's Stayner finished with a game-high 14 points.
With the win, Hellgate stays undefeated on the season as it moves to 7-0, while Sentinel fell to 3-3.