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This one was over real early.

Billings West followed the lead of smooth-shooting Brian Muller and zipped to an 81-46 victory over Missoula Hellgate Friday night.

The senior guard hit his first eight shots — seven in the first half — as West ran up leads of 21-0, 33-5 and 48-10 en route to its second victory.

 The blowout resulted in the implementation of the new 40-point rule. Whenever a team gets that big of a lead in the second half, the clock continues to run (except for timeouts and if a player fouls out). The Golden Bears reached that threshold on a Derek Dennehy steal and layup with 1:52 left in the third quarter.

Considering the blazing start, it wasn’t surprising.

“We got out to a good lead, it was like 21-0 or something, and we just didn’t look back,’’ Muller said. “It was a good night.’’

Muller knocked down two 3-pointers in the first 1:03. Jacob Hellyer followed with another 3 and the Bears couldn’t be stopped. They hit 12 of 17 shots (70.6 percent) in the first quarter and didn’t cool off much, finishing at 62.5 percent.

West didn’t achieve that percentage with just layups either, although there were enough of those. The Bears made 10 3-point baskets, six by Muller, and pushed the ball at every opportunity.

“We’re going to have to run the ball up and down the floor and try not get into too much foul trouble,’’ Muller said. “And not get in a halfcourt game. We’re a little short.’’

Chase Vinger scored 13 points, Hellyer added 12 and 6-foot-4 freshman Daine Muller (Brian’s younger brother), had 10.

“We did everything right in the first quarter,’’ coach Doug Robison said. “We played great man defense. We played great full court defense. I think we surprised them a little bit. It was a great way to start as our shooting goes. I don’t know if we missed very many shots. I know Brian Muller didn’t miss a shot until the second half. It was an exceptional shooting performance.’’

Things could be a bit tougher today when Missoula Sentinel comes over for a noon contest. The Spartans, favored to win the Western Division, dropped a 46-36 decision to Skyview. They are missing one of their best players, Ben Roberts, but still have some veterans including guard Kendall Maier, who had 18 against the Falcons.


West girls 59, Hellgate 23


Unlike the boys, the West girls took awhile to get rolling. But once they did, it was a solid victory for the Bears, who are trying to play at a faster pace this season.

West trailed 7-2, but went on a 31-5 run and continued to pull away.

“I think the girls were a little tense at the start, playing at a little different speed than they’re used to,’’ said coach Randy Chase. “Once they relaxed a little bit in the shoulders, the shots started to go. They’re an athletic team, a great team, and I can’t stress that enough with these girls.’’

Chase was pleased that nine players scored in the first half and 11 of them hit the scoring column.

“That’s what we talked about,’’ Chase said. “We have to have those go-to players that can knock down 15 or 20, but we also have to have other girls that can step up.’’

Janiel Olson led the way with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Danielle Muri scored eight points and Kacie Hutton and Jessica Sharbono had seven each.

West finished the first quarter on a 12-2 run and opened the second with six straight points. The Bears closed the half with follow shots by Steph Peterson and Olson and a post-up by Muri that turned into a 3-point play for a 19-point lead.

West put up a staggering 74 shots compared to 34 for the Knights. The reason for that differential was Hellgate’s 39 turnovers.

“A little bit of a 2-2-1. We kind of rotate out that into some other things,’’ Chase said of the defensive pressure. “We have to play with our athleticism. They have a feel for where the ball is going to be and that’s all of them all the way through. Once we get our hands on the basketball, we can get into our transition game.’’

West takes on Sentinel at 2 p.m. today. Hellgate moves over to play Senior.

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