HELENA — Missoula Sentinel’s Alex Germer blocked a shot by Helena Capital’s Trevor Swanson in the final seconds of a Western AA boys basketball battle on Tuesday night to seal the Spartans’ win, 34-33.
With 1:00 minute on the clock, Sentinel’s Bryan Mikulski banked in a jumper from the left block to put the Spartans up 34-33. Helena Capital called timeout with 14.5 seconds remaining to set up the final play. Brady Martin missed a shot from the left elbow, but Swanson was there to corral the rebound. With time expiring, Swanson let his shot go, but it was sent back by Germer. A desperation heave by Bridger Grovom bounced off the glass as the horn sounded.
“Everybody talking, moving their feet, knowing when they’re switching, knowing what to do throughout that whole possession,” Missoula Sentinel head coach Jay Jagelski said. “Even when they got the offensive rebound, we still collapsed in. It was kind of fitting that we won because of our length with a blocked shot.”
Defense was the calling card all evening for Sentinel. After falling behind 12-9 after the first quarter, the Spartans put the clamps on Capital’s offense in the second. Sentinel outscored Capital 15-2 and held the Bruins without a made field goal for the duration of the period.
Capital cut the Spartans’ lead to eight, 30-22, entering the final quarter. Trailing by two with less than two minutes to play, the Bruins jumped in front on a corner 3-pointer by Swanson, giving Capital its first lead since 7:00 in the second quarter. However, as it had for the majority of the night, Sentinel’s defense locked down Capital on the final possession. Sentinel went to its bench early and often, throwing fresh bodies at Capital to hound the Bruins defensively.
“I thought we executed very, very well on both ends of the floor, especially the defensive end,” Jagelski said. “We played 10 guys (Tuesday), and all 10 guys contributed in some capacity, whether it was deflections, steals, rebounds, penetrating, getting 3-point plays, whatever the case may be. That, I thought, really played a difference, as our depth was able to win the game.”
Tony Frohlich-Fair and Scott Malikie led Sentinel with eight points each. Trevor Swanson had a game-high 11 for Capital.
Missoula Sentinel is now 5-3 overall and 2-0 in Western AA play, having defeated both Helena High and Helena Capital. The Spartans are off until Jan. 17 when they face Missoula Big Sky. Capital falls to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in conference play. The Bruins will face Missoula Hellgate on the road on Thursday.