HELENA — The Kalispell schools clashed in the first round of the AA Western Conference girls basketball divisional tournament Thursday afternoon.
Familiarity made the game a challenge for both sides, but Glacier pulled away in the end with a 30-20 victory over Flathead at Capital High.
The fourth-seeded Wolfpack move on to the semifinals against No. 1 Missoula Sentinel at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
"Facing each other in these games are always difficult for both teams," Glacier coach Bill Sullivan said. "You just don't get in a good rhythm."
Ellie Stevens led the way for the Wolfpack with 12 points and five rebounds. Kali Gulick had eight points and three boards, while Anna Schrade and Alivia Atlee had four points each.
"We put more pressure in the front court this game, and we hits some shots," Sullivan said. "And now we are in the tournament, we just have to relax and play good basketball."
Mary Heaton was the standout for Flathead with 11 points. Glacier's size and tight zone defense didn't allow the Braves easy shots. When the Wolfpack trapped ball handlers, Flathead struggled.
"I felt like we weren't ready, and I'll take that on me," Flathead coach Tricia Dean said. "Some of our go-to players didn't step up. Credit to Glacier, they played really good defense. "
Flathead receives a day off and then heads into an elimination game at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The Braves need to win two games to qualify for the state tournament.
"We'll get in a practice and rest up," Dean said. "We'll try and regroup."
Helena 72, Hellgate 24
Everything turned out how the Helena would have liked in the first round of the AA Western Conference divisional tournament. For Missoula Hellgate, it was an experience the Knights hope learn from quickly as they progress through the bracket with a hope to make the state tournament.
The Bengals cruised to a 71-24 victory Thursday night at Capital High. They move on to the semifinals at 8 p.m. on Friday. The second-seeded Bengals (17-2) go into that game with momentum after a complete game effort against the No. 7 Knights (3-16).
The Knights move into an elimination game against Big Sky at 5 p.m. on Friday. They need to win three games in two days to qualify for the state tournament.
"We came out all guns blazing and shot the ball well," Helena coach Eric Peterson said. "And it continued all game. Then our defense came up big and helped us get a big lead."
Paige Aasved led the way for Helena with 14 points, while Jamie Pickens scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Kamden added 10 points and three rebounds.
Hellgate came out from the start with higher intensity than the last time against the Bengals, but wore down against an athletic Helena team. Kylie Lunday was the top scorer for the Knights with nine points and six rebounds.
"Helena game out hitting on all cylinders," Hellgate coach Rob Henthorn said. "They are a really good team. They came out fast from the start. Hopefully, we can get ready for the next game. We can't think about the past. We have to look to next game and go from there. We need to stick together as a team."
Capital 63, Big Sky 13
Capital entered Thursday’s divisional tournament with the best defense in the state. And, not that they needed to prove it, but it showed.
The No. 3-seed Bruins held No. 6-seed Missoula Big Sky to a season low in points, defeating the Eagles 63-13 in the first round of divisionals at Capital High. Capital moves on to a crosstown rematch against Helena High on Friday.
“We wanted to come out and play well and play with confidence and we did that,” Bruins coach Bill Pilgeram said. “I wanted to play a lot of bodies and a lot of girls because we’re going to play three games in three nights, and we were able to do that.”
The Eagles scored half their points in the first few minutes before the Bruins buckled down and went on a scoring rampage. After Capital led 6-5 with six minutes left in the first quarter, the Bruins closed the quarter with a 24-7 lead, getting major contributions from every member of the team.