(Editor’s note: This is the first of four installments looking at which teams have built the best bodies of work during the first month of the 2018-19 high school basketball season. These are not rankings — although many of the top-ranked teams will be featured here — but an analysis of schedules and strength of victories. The 2018 portion of the schedule concluded on Dec. 22, and the 2019 schedule starts as early as Jan. 3. For the Class A breakdown, please click here. For the Class B breakdown, please click here. For the Class C breakdown, please click here.)
The 2018-19 high school basketball season in Montana is just four weeks old, but some teams have already started to build impressive resumes. Missoula Hellgate, led by future Montana Grizzly Rollie Worster, has picked up a pair of solid victories early in the season. On the girls side, Helena Capital looks set to improve upon its fourth-place finish at the State AA tournament.
Boys: Missoula Hellgate
The Knights boast arguably the state’s best win on the boys side – a six-point victory on the road at Bozeman. The win came a week after Hellgate hosted Billings Senior and Billings West. The Knights took down another Eastern AA favorite in Billings West on Friday night and thumped Billings Senior by 35 points on Saturday. Hellgate followed up those victories with its win on the road at Bozeman.
Hellgate has yet to lose to a team in the state of Montana but did drop a closely contested battle with Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene High School. The Knights have been red hot offensively to start the year, averaging 69.6 points per game and scoring more than 60 points in each game. After a pair of early-season wins over Billings West and Bozeman, Hellgate has asserted itself as a top team in Class AA.
Honorable mentions: Bozeman, Great Falls High.
Girls: Helena Capital
The Bruins were dominant in December in racing out to a 5-0 record. Capital has won its five games by an average just north of 23 points per game and has only one game decided by single digits.
Capital has been most impressive on the road this season. The Bruins opened up on the road with a 15-point win at Bozeman, which defeated Capital in the third-place game at the State AA tournament last season. The following weekend, Capital traveled to Billings and picked up wins over Skyview and Senior, although the Broncs are without all-state forward Kola Bad Bear.
Capital’s mix of length and athleticism has given opponents’ offenses fits, as the Bruins give up less than 44 points per game and have allowed only Senior to cross the 50-point threshold. Capital has also picked up wins over three teams at last year’s State AA tournament – Senior, Bozeman and Great Falls CMR.
Honorable mentions: Billings West, Helena High.