MISSOULA -- Great Falls CMR nearly erased a 14-point Missoula Hellgate lead, but the Knights held on for a 42-39 Class AA girls basketball victory over the Rustlers on Friday night.
The win improved Hellgate to 4-0 while CMR fell to 2-2.
After Bailee Sayler made a layup to put the Knights up 41-27 with 3:04 to play, CMR ended the game on a 12-1 run which was kick-started by eight points from Emily Funseth. Hellgate went to the line up three with 10 seconds to play, but after the front end of the one-and-one was missed, the Rustlers had two chances to tie the game on the other end, but both attempts fell short as the buzzer sounded.
Freshman Alex Covill led Hellgate with 11 points off of the bench while Lauren Dick added nine points for the Knights. The game was the first back from winter break for both schools.
"Great way to start the new year off," Hellgate coach Rob Henthorn said. "CMR came ready to play. They played hard. They got a little more physical than we were ready for, but we came out ahead in the end.
"(The challenge) was awesome because we have a lot to work on and we always talk about the little things and we're going to hit the little things come Monday."
Hellgate rolled with its lineup of four sophomores and one senior as starters. Kinsey Henthorn is Hellgate's lone senior while Addy Heaphy, Perry Paffhausen, Sayler and Dick make up the rest of Hellgate's starters. But Henthorn said the team's youth is almost unnoticeable because of how well Hellgate has executed so far. Hellgate led 24-18 at halftime.
CMR coach Brian Crosby said his team just started to get back into the rhythm of the game as his team was coming back. Though the Rustlers lost, he was still impressed by the way they battled back against the undefeated Knights. Funseth led the Rustlers with 13 points.
"I'm proud of our kids," Crosby said. "Our kids fought and Hellgate's a really good team. The hype is real about them so I'm proud. Wish we could have had a few more to fall, but all in all -- it's never good to lose -- but it is good to come over here and hang with a really good team."