HELENA — Helena High coach Eric Peterson knows his team isn't entirely predicated on one player in Jamie Pickens, and they proved it with a 59-45 victory over Capital Friday night at Helena High.
The Bengals, who are currently ranked No. 1 by the 406mtsports.com network, toppled the Bruins, a team that was ranked as high as No. 3 by the 406 polls, in a game in which they struggled at the start of the first quarter.
Capital began the game firing on all cylinders and took a commanding 9-2 advantage over the more experienced Bengals early in the opening frame. Helena High started to show their big-game poise late in the half and made a run in the second quarter, outscoring the Bruins 15-7.
"Early in the game, our team didn't show our experience, and we got a little rattled," Bengals coach Eric Peterson said. "As we settled down, I thought our experience took over."
The Bengals responded with three players scoring in double figures, including Emily Feller with 12 points and Vanessa Walsh and Abby Marcille, who each had 11. They also got a couple of other players involved in their point production with Paige Aasved scoring nine points, Jamie Pickens adding nine and Payton Aasved, who finished with seven.
"Everyone always talks about Jamie Pickens, but it's a team effort and this is not just the Jamie Pickens show," Bengals coach Peterson said. "Every one of our girls stepped up tonight, including Paige, Vanessa, Abby and every other girl who played for us tonight."
Heading into this game, Bruins coach Katie Garcin-Forba wanted to use the first crosstown meeting as a measuring stick, win, lose or draw. Garcin-Forba said she felt her team, which consists of two sophomore varsity starters on the floor, handled the adversity of the big-game atmosphere well.
"I think their big-game experience is huge as they started one senior, and we have started two sophomores," Garcin-Forba said. "I think these types of games make us better down the stretch."
Garcin-Forba said she was incredibly proud of how her team responded to the atmosphere, something her younger players aren't accustomed to playing in.
"I was incredibly proud of how they stayed together and rallied around each other," Garcin-Forba said. "Our team showed its true colors tonight. They were able to make a few layups and free throws."
Sydney Sheridan led the Bruins with 16 points in the loss, while Emily Kidder and Dani Bartsch finished with nine and eight points respectively.
"I think they came out with a lot of energy, and did a great job responding," Garcin-Forba said of the Bengals overcoming the early deficit. "This was a good learning experience for our team and when they responded, we have to learn to respond to that."