Helena Capital used a big first quarter to propel itself to a 47-37 win over Glacier in the Western AA Divisional girls basketball semifinals on Friday at Glacier High School.
The No. 3 seed Wolfpack (13-7 overall) can still reach the Class AA state tournament with a victory over Missoula Sentinel this morning at 9:30.
The No. 2 seed Bruins (18-2) took control early with a full-court press that led to numerous Glacier turnovers. They also shot with ruthless efficiency, going 11 of 22 from the field, 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and 10 of 11 on free-throw attempts in the first half.
“They’re big, they’re long, they’re physical. We didn’t handle their pressure,” Glacier coach Bill Sullivan said.
“[We made] too many mistakes and a great team like that is going to capitalize and they did.”
Capital led 24-5 after one quarter of play. Glacier scored on Aubrie Rademacher’s drive on its first possession but only managed one other field goal in the frame, when Abi Manger banked in a long triple with just under three minutes to go.
The Wolfpack still could not find good shots or hit open looks in the second quarter, and the Bruins built a game-high 27-point advantage, leading 36-9 as halftime approached.
Glacier’s leading scorer Kali Gulick helped the team reach double digits at the intermission. She scored her only points on a short bank shot with 15 seconds left in the half.
Sullivan said Gulick had plenty of open shots, “but they just weren’t falling.”
“Sometimes you have games like that. But you’ve just got to keep shooting your way through it, and she’ll be fine in the morning,” he said.
Capital cooled down in the second half, and Rademacher did her best to try and kick-start a Glacier rally. She had four steals in the half and added some fast-break points on her way to a team-high nine points.
But the Bruins’ stingy defense did not allow the Wolfpack to sniff a comeback.
Glacier still outscored Capital 9-5 in the third quarter and 17-6 in the fourth.
“I like the way our girls hung in there. We came into halftime and said ‘first half is over, let’s try and win the second half,’” Sullivan said.
“They played hard, they played well, they kept fighting ... That’s what you ask for.
“You just can’t give up a 24-point quarter and expect to win ball games,” he added.
Sydney Sheridan led the Bruins with 13 points and buried three triples. Dani Bartsch had 10 points and Paige Bartsch chipped in eight while grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds.
Kaileigh Crawford, Raley Shirey, Kaylee Fritz and Manger all added five points for the Wolfpack.
“You have tough games like this every once in a while, but we’ve got to bounce back and take care of business tomorrow morning,” Sullivan said.
The Bruins take on No. 4 seed Missoula Hellgate (13-7) for the Western AA title this evening at 6.
Helena Capital 24 12 5 6 – 47
Glacier 5 6 9 17 – 37
CAPITAL – Megan Lindbo 8, Paige Bartsch 8, Sydney Sheridan 13, Emily Kidder 4, Dani Bartsch 10, Cassie Brisko 2, Aryana Ridlon 2.
GLACIER – Kali Gulick 2, Kaileigh Crawford 5, Aubrie Rademacher 9, Raley Shirey 5, Linsey Waugh 2, Kaylee Fritz 5, Aubry Grame 2, Allee Meyer 2, Abi Manger 5.
Missoula Hellgate 54,
Helena High 50
Balanced scoring and hot shooting from the free-throw line carried fourth-seed Hellgate to an upset win over top-seed Helena in semifinal play at Glacier High School.
Emma Blakely, 18 points, was one of three Hellgate players to score in double figures. Bailee Sayler followed with 11 and Kylie Lunday netted 10 points to go with a team-high nine rebounds.
Jamie Pickens turned in a double-double for Helena, which had a first-round bye, with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Missoula Hellgate outshot Helena 47 percent (14 of 30) to 38 percent (20 of 53) from the field and was a big winner at the free-throw line, dropping 21 of 25 shots. Helena was just 4 of 9 at the charity stripe.
Blakely was 11 of 12 shooting from the line, Sayler 4 for 4 and Lunday 6 of 9.
The two teams battled on even terms in the first, second and fourth quarters. Hellgate outscored Helena 13-9 in the third quarter.
Hellgate (13-7) advances to today’s championship game at 6 p.m. against Helena Capital.
Helena (17-2) has a loser-out test with Flathead (7-13) at 9:30 a.m. at Flathead High School. The loser-out winner moves on the consolation final at 3 p.m. at Glacier High School and also qualifies for the state tournament in Butte March 7-9.
Missoula Hellgate 19 10 13 12 — 54
Helena High 19 10 9 12 — 50
MISSOULA HELLGATE — Addy Heaphy 9, Emma Blakely 18, Bailee Sayler 11, Lauren Dick 4, Kylie Lunday 10, Perry Paffhausen 2.
HELENA HIGH — Paige Aasved 7, Payton Aasved 6, Vanessa Walsh 6, Emily Feller 4, Jamie Pickens 19, Abby Marcille 8.