KALISPELL – Helena Capital has proven it belongs near the top of Class AA, Missoula Hellgate and Kalispell Glacier swept their crosstown rivals in the regular season, and nothing changed in the first round of the postseason. The Knights and Wolfpack shut down Missoula Sentinel and Kalispell Flathead, respectively, and Capital crushed Missoula Big Sky to wrap up the first round of the Western AA girls basketball divisional tournament.
No. 2-seed Capital hammered seventh-seeded Big Sky from the opening tip in the last girls game of the night in Kalispell. The Bruins led 14-3 after one quarter, 29-9 at halftime, and 53-15 at the end of the third quarter. The lead reached 43, kicking in a running clock through the fourth quarter.
The Bruins made more than half of their shots in the game, while holding Big Sky to only 5 of 35 from the field, 14 percent. The Bruins also forced 18 Eagles turnovers in the dominant performance. Sydney Sheridan led the way with 14 points and five assists. Megan Lindbo added 13 points. Emily Kidder scored 10.
No. 3-seed Glacier used an absolutely dominant defense in the first half to pull away from sixth-seeded Flathead and win 36-24. The Wolfpack led 19-3 by halftime. The Bravettes only shot 1 for 12 over the first two quarters. Glacier’s lead grew to 23 points by midway through the third quarter.
Glacier controlled the game in nearly every category. The much-bigger Wolfpack out-rebounded the Bravettes 32-21. Glacier forced 20 turnovers, while only committing nine turnovers itself.
Kali Gulick picked up a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Aubrie Rademacher also scored 10 points. Jenna Johnson scored a game-high 13 points for Flathead.
Glacier now awaits Capital in the semifinals. They’ll tip off at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Flathead will play Big Sky in a loser-out at 11 a.m. Friday.
Hellgate started the Western AA girls divisional tournament by proving it was the best to come out of the Garden City this year once again. The fourth-seeded Knights took down No. 5-seed Missoula Sentinel, 44-26, in the first round. Hellgate swept its crosstown rivals during the season to claim its first city title since 2003, the same year the Knights last made the State AA tournament. Now Hellgate needs only one more win to reach the final bracket next week.
Hellgate only led 10-8 after the first quarter, but the Knights never let the Spartans take the lead, and they took complete control in the second quarter, out-scoring Sentinel 20-5. The Knights’ lead reached a game-high 24 points midway through the third quarter. The Spartans could never make a run, shooting only 26 percent from the field.
Hellgate made 38 percent of their shots. Freshman Addy Heaphy was the only player to reach double figures in the Knights’ balanced attack with 11 points. Emma Blakely added eight points, seven rebounds and four assists. Bailee Saylor pitched in seven points, eight rebounds and five steals. Sentinel star junior Lexi Deden scored a game-high 13 points.
Hellgate will now take its best shot at top-seeded Helena High in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Sentinel will not play again until a loser-out game at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.