HELENA — Helena Capital trailed for nearly the entirety of the game but still found a way to beat Billings Senior in Class AA boys basketball action on Friday night. Three free throws by Bridger Grovom with 10 seconds remaining pushed the Bruins past Billings Senior, 54-53.
Senior’s Junior Bergen gave the Broncs a 53-51 lead with 47 seconds left when he blew by his defender and finished in the lane. Capital was patient with its ensuing possession before Grovom was left alone in the corner. Senior’s Max Evenson was too aggressive on the closeout, fouling Grovom and sending him to the line for the eventual game-winning free throws. A last-second shot by Bergen hit the front of the iron and caromed away.
“After halftime, I thought we brought it together, a little bit more of a team effort in the second half,” Capital head coach Guy Almquist said. “We tried to get the ball in the key and attack the glass a little bit, and we tried to just play sound, half court man-to-man defense.”
The Broncs were in control of the game through three quarters, leading 43-37 entering the fourth. However, the Bruins opened the quarter on a 9-2 run to grab their first lead of the game with 5:25 to play. Jacksen Burckley buried a triple to quickly put the Broncs back ahead. Capital would not lead again until Grovom’s free throws.
Capital trailed 29-20 at halftime, but the Bruins fought their way back by dominating on the glass. Capital wound up out-rebounding Senior 45-29, and grabbed 21 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.
“I just told them, ‘This will be a game we look back in the postseason and say maybe that was the first step in learning how to win a game, what it takes,” Almquist said. “We were far from perfect in the second half, but I thought we were guttier. We made some of the little plays. We shared the ball a little bit better. Maybe we turned down what was a decent shot for an even better shot.”
Grovom was the only Capital player in double figures, finishing with a game-high 19 points. Brady Martin struggled from the field but grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Bergen led Senior with 15 points and Burckley added 14.
Helena Capital will host Billings Skyview on Saturday, while Senior will face Helena High.