MISSOULA -- On Saturday night the Western AA divisional girls basketball tournament concluded with the championship game between the host No.3-seed Missoula Sentinel Spartans and the No.1-seed Helena Capital Bruins. After a quick start from Sentinel, the Bruins settled in and claimed the Western AA title with a 43-28 win.
In the first quarter, Sentinel Spartans Lexi Deden and Challis Westwater found early success down low as they built a 6-2 lead. However, that wouldn't last long as Capital settled in and both teams scored nine points in the first quarter.
In the second, Deden continued to find the bottom of the net as she hit a bucket in the paint to take a 13-11 lead. That would be the last time the Spartans led all game, as the Bruins outscored them 10-9 in the quarter to take a narrow 19-18 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Capital looked like a new team as it excelled on offense and shut down the Spartans on the defensive end. In the third quarter, Capital outscored Sentinel 13-6 and in the fourth period outscored Sentinel 11-4. Overall, in the second half, Capital scored 24 points to Sentinel's 10.
Paige Bartsch finished with a game-high 22 points for the Bruins on 10 for 16 from the field while also pulling down nine rebounds. Her twin sister, Paige, finished with 11 points on 4 for 8 from the field and 3 for 4 from the free throw line. As a team, Capital finished 17 for 38 from the field.
Brooke Stayner finished with a team-high nine points for Sentinel. Deden also added eight points, and Westwater added eight. As a team, the Spartans finished 8 for 27 from the field and 2 for 11 from beyond the arc.
Capital will take on the Billings Skyview Falcons in the first round of the state tournament on March 12.