KALISPELL — Missoula Hellgate had to battle through a close semifinal on Friday in the Western AA boys basketball divisional tournament. The top-ranked Knights made sure Saturday’s showdown didn’t have as much drama.
Hellgate blew out No. 3-seed Helena Capital from the opening tip on its way to a 59-35 win in the championship game. Hellgate survived a scare from fourth-seeded Helena High on Friday but never let the Bruins in the game on Saturday.
Hellgate led 13-5 at the end of the first quarter and 34-11 at halftime. At the break, two Knights players had out-scored the Bruins by themselves. Dylan Holst had scored 14 points and Rollie Worster had 13 of his own. The lead reached a game-high 30 points by midway through the fourth quarter, as the Knights didn’t let up until the final minutes.
Capital came within a single point of upsetting Hellgate in the teams’ second regular-season clash. But the Knights out-rebounded the Bruins 42-27 and out-shot them 46 percent to 25 percent in the final. Worster, the junior Montana Grizzly commit, finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Holst totaled 16 points and eight rebounds. Trevor Swanson led the Bruins with eight points.
Hellgate will now take the top seed from the West into the State AA boys tournament in Butte next week. Capital will be the No. 2 seed. Missoula Sentinel and Helena High will also make the trip to the Mining City after picking up do-or-die wins Saturday morning.
No. 2-seed Sentinel bounced back after an upset loss to Capital on Friday. The Spartans beat hosting Kalispell Glacier 62-40 in a loser-out. Scott Malikie scored 19 points in the win.
Helena held off Kalispell Flathead, 56-46, at the same time. Pierce Brown scored a game-high 18 points.
Then Sentinel and Helena played a tight contest to determine third place. The Bengals led by seven early in the second quarter. Sentinel cut the lead back to one by halftime. Alex Germer made several big plays down the stretch on his way to 20 points, and the Spartans held off the Bengals, 50-49. The Bengals had the ball down three points in the final seconds but made a two-point shot at the buzzer. Brown led Helena again with 15 points.