HELENA — The Helena High boys basketball team pushed Missoula Sentinel to the end, but the Spartans pulled out an AA Western Conference win 42-36 on Saturday afternoon.
It was a battle of attrition that featured stingy defense and frantic, fast-paced play at various times. And occasionally, it got tense.
The Spartans (13-4, 7-1) held a one-point advantage at halftime, but slowly pulled away from the Bengals (8-9, 4-4) in the second half.
"Helena is physical and shoots the ball well," Sentinel coach Jay Jagelski said. "We knew it was going to be a tough place to play. We made some big shots and get some stops, more than anything."
Tony Frohlich-Fair led the Spartans with 10 points, followed by Alex Germer with nine and Hayden Kolb with eight.
Connor Murgel and Hayden Ferguson were the top scorers for Helena with eight points each.
"We came out flat and didn't play well," Helena coach Brandon Day said. "They took advantage. We take some steps forward and then we take some back. At least we have a couple weeks before divisionals to work it out."
Helena remains in third place in the conference behind Sentinel. The Spartans, however, are in search of a conference title.
They are a game behind top-ranked Missoula Hellgate, and they meet each other next for their second meeting of the season.
"We are looking forward to Hellgate," Jagelski said. "We want to take first place in the conference."