BUTTE — The Helena Capital High girls basketball team will get a third chance to beat their crosstown rival Helena after the Bruins defeated Great Falls 55-30 in the first round of AA state tournament Thursday night at the Butte Civic Center.

The Bruins will play their game with their crosstown rival Helena at 8 p.m. Friday night at the Civic Center. Capital's only two losses of the season were at the expense of the Bruins.

Great Falls will face Butte in an elmination game at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Civic Center.

Bruins coach Katie Garcin-Forba said her team is ready to face their rivals for a third time this season.

"I think it's the mental part, we have the sets, the defenses, and all of the pieces in place, and now it's just the mental part, and getting the girls to believe that they can beat this team," Garcin-Forba said. "They can beat Helena High, and they are not unreachable, we just have to do the little things (during the game)."

Emily Kidder was the only Capital player to score in double-figures with a team and game-high 12 points. Great Falls' Erin Watt finished with nine points.

"They are very athletic, and very big, and experienced with their seniors," Great Falls coach Jerry Schmitz said. " They played good."

Helena 56, Butte 44

Helena team on one of the top players in the state during first round of the AA state tournament. Jamie Pickens, the University of Montana signee, scored a game-high 25 points to lead her team to a 56-44 victory over Butte.

The Bengals advance to play Capital in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at the Civic Center. Butte will play Great Falls in an elimination game 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Bengals coach Eric Peterson didn't hesitate to answer what the difference was in this contest: "Jamie Pickens," he stated.

"Pickens is the best player (on the floor), and we are going to have to give her the ball," Peterson said, "We fed her the ball inside, and she was making two-footers, and making it happen on her own."

Peterson also said he felt his team's big-game experience playing Capital, a group that has been rated at the No. 2 team in the 406mtsports.com polls for the majority of the year, helped his team prepare for the state atmosphere. 

"I think that is where our crosstown matchups come into play," Peterson said. "The fact (our team) has played Helena Capital twice this season, has helped us in this scenario."

Bulldogs coach Maury Cook said he was satisfied with his team's performance, and effort, despite being undersized in their attempt to defend Pickens.

Paige Aasved was the other Bengals player who scored in double figures with 11 points. Butte's Brittney Tierney led the Bulldogs with 17, and Aspen Lovshin finished with 15.

"Jamie is a great player, and I thought (we) battled, and came through our fouls, and did whatever we could to slow her down," Cook said. "We just couldn't defend the post."

Billings West 41, Kalispell Glacier 20 

The Billings West High girls basketball team defeated the Kalispell Glacier 41-20 in the first round AA state tournament Thursday afternoon at the Butte Civic Center.

West advances to play Missoula Hellgate in a semifinal game at 6:30 p.m. Friday night. Glacier plays Billings Senior in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Golden Bears' coach Charlie Johnson said his team had to dictate the tempo against a methodical Wolfpack offense.

"They can really grind you out on each possession, and they rebound so dang well, and we did a great job on the boards and didn't give them a lot of second-chance opportunities," Johnson said. "Our defense had them on their heels in the very first game. We stuck together as a team, and played some pretty good basketball."

The Golden Bears were led by TyRaa Manuel, who finished with a game-high 12 points, and TyLee Manuel had 10 points. Wolfpack's Aubrie Rademacher finished with a team-high five points.

Wolfpack coach Bill Sullivan said he was impressed in his team's first look at the Golden Bears.

"Shoot they are good and big and a difficult team to play against," Sullivan said. "We weren't very intense and we didn't match up well, and I am not sure who does against that team. We will just have to regroup in the consolation bracket, and play a little bit better defensively, and get in some sort of rhythm on offense."

Hellgate 61, Billings Senior 34

Missoula Hellgate defeated Billings Senior 61-34 in the first round. The Knights advance to play Billings West in the 6:30 p.m. Friday semifinal. Senior will play Glacier in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

The Knights gained separation outscoring West 20-10 in the second quarter. Hellgate out-rebounded the Broncs 38-21 during the game.

"The game was entertaining, and (our team) came out nervous, and we were able to get more rebounds in the game than we did the entire season," Knights coach Rob Henthorn said. "(Our team) wanted to go hard, and come out and attack their 2-3 zone."

Emma Blakely led the Knights with a game-high 16 points, and Bailee Sayler finished the game with 14 points. Senior was led by Ellie Ostermiller, who finished with a team-high 10 points.

Broncs coach Zach Robbins simply stated his team got out-rebounded.

"When it comes down to it, we didn't rebound the basketball well," Robbins said. "I can't stress that enough when you give a team that many second-chance opportunities, it doesn't matter who the opponent is, they are going to kill you."

Jason Blasco is the lead prep sports reporter for the Helena Indepedent-Record and a sports reporter for the 406mtsports.com network.

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