HELENA — HelenaCapital High boys basketball coach Guy Almquist has a specific goal as the Bruins prepare to head into conference play: out-rebound the opponent.
"Rebounding was certainly a focus because the last couple of years, we were annihilated on the glass," Almquist said. "Hopefully, we can continue to spread the ball around and make them shoot contested shots."
So far, the Bruins achieved one of Almquist preseason goals, and their ability to play fundamental basketball was a key contributing factor in their 48-43 victory over Great Falls on Saturday night at Capital's gym
Bison coach Bob Howard concurred that Almquist achieved his team's early-season goal of rebounding.
"They've out-rebounded everyone they've played," Howard said. "They do a good job, they box out well, they are strong and they are tenacious."
The Bruins out-rebounded the Bison 43-29, and the second-chance opportunities made a huge difference in a game where they controlled the tempo for the majority of the game.
Led by Brady Martin and Trevor Swanson, who scored a combined 27 points, Capital was able to cruise for the majority of the game.
They held the Bison to a 29.3 percent shooting percentage on the night, and they shot 20.7 percent from the 3-point line.
Capital took a 19-14 lead at halftime, and although the Bruins let Great Falls come back late in the fourth quarter after Cash Abbott sank back-to-back 3-point shots to narrow the deficit to five points, it wasn't enough for the Bison to overcome the Bruins.
The Bruins were 18 of 42 from the floor and shot 42.9 percent during the game.
"I think our two teams really wanted to get going up-and-down the floor and that is why you saw such poor offense," Almquist said. "Our team was able to stop their penetration and shoot a lot of 3-pointers. When you are shooting them from a long way out, you have to make sure to be able to rebound the basketball."
Capital only allowed Abbott to score in double digits for Great Falls.
The Bruins continue to work on their confidence headed into a challenging start to Western Conference play.
They have Missoula Sentinal and Missoula Hellgate, two of the top-ranked teams in the state of Montana, to begin the conference schedule.
"Our kids are finding a way to compete against some of these top-ranked teams," Almquist said. "Sometimes, toward the end of games, we have trouble finishing the deal. Some of our issues haven't mattered when our team played well. We can compete with anyone. We are going to have to play well to compete against some of these top teams and we are going to have to get better at finishing games."