Hellgate cuts down nets

Missoula Hellgate cuts down the nets after winning in the semifinals and being named co-champs. 

BOZEMAN — There will be two state champions amongst the AA schools this season.

After Montana High School Association Executive Director Mark Beckman announced late Friday night that all state tournaments were canceled following the semifinal round when four cases of coronavirus were found in Montana.

Earlier in the day Billings Skyview defeated Great Falls while the final game saw Missoula Hellgate taking down Billings West.

“It’s a mixed bag of emotions right now,” Hellgate coach Jeff Hays said. “MHSA is doing what they think is best and we fully support it but we are disappointed.”

Skyview coach Kevin Morales said before the tournament was actually cancelled that it would be a bummer.

This is the first time in the history of the MHSA that there will be co-champions in boys basketball.

“It’s not the way you want to end your season,” Skyview coach Kevin Morales said.

Billings Skyview 61, Great Falls 44

Three-point shooting and some stingy defense.

That was all that was needed for Billings Skyview to head to the AA boys championship game.

Skyview made eight 3-pointers and held Great Falls to below 35 percent shooting as it came away with a 61-44 victory.

Morales said to get to the championship game feels great after his team experienced a slow start to the season, losing four of its first six games.

“I”m just so happy for my boys,” Morales said. “A lot of people didn’t believe in us but these players believe in themselves and if they do that, they can climb mountains.”

Great Falls was coming off an overtime thriller against Helena Capital where Drew Wyman finished with 34 points the night before.

And in the first quarter he picked up exactly where he left off.

After a quick score by Levi Torgerson, Wyman scored the next five points to put the Bison ahead 8-6 five minutes in.

Skyview answered with a a 3-pointer by Ky Kouba to take the lead and then added on a score by Abe Seybert.

Falcons coach Kevin Morales has preached defense all season and in the second quarter, he described his team’s play as gritty.

Wyman added a bucket in the first few seconds and then Skyview held him and his entire team scoreless for the rest of the quarter.

“This was our fourth time seeing them so we had a zone picked out that kind of hurt them in divisional so we stuck with that game plan,” Morales said. “The boys executed it to a tee.”

Koba added three more 3-pointers in the second quarter and Cameron Ketchum added another as the Falcons went on a 17-2 run to take a 29-13 lead into halftime.

Great Falls tried to come back in the second half, but their attempt came up short.

Tarel Rollins added a few buckets by Skyview answered by going inside to 6-7 senior Julius Mims.

Mims also finished with an alley-oop that brought the Skyview faithful to its feet.

“I don’t know if a lot of people can catch that lob in the state of Montana, let alone the AA tournament,” Morales said. Julius has a lot of tools in his bag. He did a great job”.

Missoula Hellgate 48, Billings West 34

Missoula Hellgate can say it finished its season without a loss.

And a 23-0 record.

The Knight jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start its semifinal game and never looked back as it took down the Billings West 48-34 to reach its second consecutive state final.

But with the MSHA cancelling the remaining of the state tournament, Hays didn’t really want to talk about the game.

“We did end up with the win but you look at our guys and it didn’t look or feel that way,” Hays said. “Bottom line is my team loves to play. They come to practice, competed every game and dominated every game.”

Hellgate’s 9-0 run was put together by the starting lineup. Finally senior Abe Johnson scored inside to force the Golden Bears to take a time out.

Knights’ senior Rollie Worster came to life as he hit a pair of 3-pointers ad Hellgate held a 17-3 first quarter lead.

Things continued to go right for the Knights in the second quarter as a three-point play by Johnson put the team up 23-7.

West found its stroke from distance as Teagan Mullowney hit three 3-pointers including one at the buzzer rang through the arena to signal halftime, but it was still looking up at a 31-19 deficit.

Hellgate regained control in the second half as Worster scored a pair of baskets.

He finished with a game-high 21 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

The Bears tried to put together a run in the fourth quarter but it was no use as Hellgate moved on to the finals.

Or so it thought.

Ryan Kuhn covers Carroll College athletics and high school sports for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @rskuhn

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