HELENA — In a game where points came at a premium, the Helena High Bengals took down in-city rival Helena Capital 43-37 to claim the Western AA title Friday night.
The Bengals opened the game on a 7-0 run, and extended the lead to 13 points in the second quarter when they went up by a score of 19 – 6. The Bruins pulled back with in seven point as time ticked off the clock in the second quarter. At the half, the scoreboard read 22 – 15 in favor of the Bengals, but Helena High head coach Eric Peterson noted his team played uncharacteristically near the end of the first half.
“We gave up a few, that we normally don’t do. We want to extend leads all the time, but that’s a quality team,” said Peterson. “That’s two of the best teams going at it in the state.”
Paige Aasved led the Bengals with 14 points.
The Capital Bruins closed the gap slightly in the third quarter, with eight of Emily Kidder’s 14 points coming in the quarter, but the Bruins still trailed by five as the two teams made their way into the final frame. The Bruins inched closer near the beginning of the fourth quarter, knocking down a free-throw to put the score at 34-30, but Capital faced foul trouble of their own late as they had 5 team fouls with nearly five minutes left in regulation. That, combined with a strong Bengals defense, lead to the Bruins second loss on the season, and a second place finish in the Western AA.
Following the game, Peterson said he was pleased with the way his team preformed under duress.
“We hit a free throw here and there when we needed to; we didn’t make them all. We took care of the ball and that was the big thing,” said Peterson. “We knew that they were going to press up at the end, when they had to come back and we took care of the ball and didn’t turn it over in the crucial part of the game.”
Both the Bengals and the Bruins will jump into the divisional tournament and the 1 and 2 seeds, respectively, in Kalispell. The tournament will begin on Feb. 28 and conclude on Mar. 2.