KALISPELL – The Western AA boys basketball divisional tournament plays in Kalispell this week. But the teams from Helena looked good in the first round against the hometown teams. Helena High topped Kalispell Glacier, and Helena Capital held off Kalispell Flathead. In the final first round game, Missoula Sentinel held off crosstown rival Missoula Big Sky.
No. 2-seed Sentinel got an early challenge from seventh-seeded Big Sky before pulling away to win 51-34. The Eagles hung around in the first half, only trailing 7-4 after a low-scoring first quarter and 25-16 at halftime. Sentinel controlled the second half, building a 21-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
Sentinel shot a blistering 53 percent from the field, while holding Big Sky to 33 percent. The Spartans also out-rebounded the Eagles 24-13. Alex Germer was the only Spartan to reach double figures in a balanced attack. He scored 13 points. Daniel Morin led Big Sky with 14 points. The Eagles’ leading scorer, Camdyn LaRance, only scored five points on 1-of-10 shooting, 13 below his season average.
No. 3-seed Capital jumped to a lead early and held off a late charge from sixth-seeded Flathead to win 62-51. Capital led 13-6 after one quarter and 24-18 at halftime. A strong start to the second half pushed the Bruins advantage to its highest mark, 16 points with 3:00 left in the third quarter.
Flathead then came to life down the stretch. The Braves scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and clipped the Bruins lead down to seven, but Capital held the lead all the way to the final buzzer. Both teams shot well, with Capital hitting 49 percent and Flathead 48 percent. The Bruins’ biggest advantage came with their ability to hang onto and distribute the ball. Capital totaled 16 assists and only eight turnovers. Flathead turned the ball over 14 times and only dished out three assists as a team.
Four Capital players reached double figures in scoring. Garrett Kueber came off the bench to lead the way with 12 points and six rebounds. Brady Martin and Bridger Grovom each scored 11. Shane Haller totaled 10 points. Brett Thompson led Flathead’s comeback attempt with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
Capital will now play in the semifinals versus Sentinel. The Bruins and Spartans will take the court at 8 p.m. Friday. Flathead will play a loser-out game versus Big Sky at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
No. 4-seed Helena High used a dominant defensive effort to take down No. 5-seed Kalispell Glacier in the first game of the day. The Bengals held the Wolfpack to only 28 percent shooting, while making 46 percent of their shots, on the way to a 46-30 victory.
Helena took complete control of the game from the opening tip and never gave up the lead. The Bengals held a 16-7 advantage after one quarter and pushed the margin to 31-13 at halftime. Helena’s lead reached a game-high 21 points early in the third quarter. Glacier won the second half but never threatened to make a comeback.
Pierce Brown hit four 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 12 points. Connor Murgel added 10 points. Alex Johnson only made one shot for three points but added seven assists and five rebounds. No Glacier players reached double figures in scoring. The Wolfpack were led by Michael Schwarz, who scored seven points.
Helena will now take on top-seeded Missoula Hellgate in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday evening. Glacier will next play a loser-out game at 11 a.m. Saturday.