KALISPELL — The Helena Capital High boys basketball team defeated Kalispell Flathead 61-52 in the first round of Western AA Divisional Tournament on Thursday night at Glacier High.

Capital advances to play Missoula Sentinel game at 8 p.m. Friday. Flathead will play the loser if Big Sky at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

The Bruins had the luxury of multiple players stepping in big-game scenarios all season, and it happened again this contest. They won their fifth game in a row and eight of its last 10.

"We did not play our best tonight, and this is our fifth (victory) in a row, so I was happy (overall) with how we played," Bruins coach Guy Almquist said.

Capital had four players score in double-digits, including Garrett Kueber with a team-high 12 points. Brady Martin and Bridger Grovom both finished with 11 points, and Shane Holler added 10 points.

Brett Thompson led Flathead with a game-high 20 points and Gabe Adams finished with 13.

"We out-rebounded (Capital) on the boards, which is what we wanted to do (going into the game)," Flathead coach Ross Gustafson said. "They just made a few more plays (than we did) and got a few more turnovers, and that was the key to the game."

Helena 46, Kalispell Glacier 30

Helena defeated Kalispell Glacier 46-30 in the first round of the Western AA Divisional Tournament on Thursday afternoon at Glacier High.

The Bengals advance to play the No. 1 seeded and top-ranked team in the 406mtsports.com polls Hellgate, in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday.

Glacier receives a bye Friday in the loser’s bracket, and plays the loser one of the divisional semifinal games at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Helena started strong and coach Brandon Day attributed his team’s first-half success against the Wolfpack to his team’s experience.

“Having seven seniors, and two juniors (really helps), and they are excited about this tournament,” Day said. “We played solid defense, and we did a better job getting on shooters, and that is something we worked on (headed into the tournament), and hopefully that continues.”

Pierce Brown led the Bengals with a game-high 12 points, and Connor Murgel finished with 10 points.

Glacier didn’t have any player in double figures, but was led by Michael Schwarz with seven points.

“Shooting is contagious, and there are several games where we struggled to shoot well,” Glacier coach Mark Harkins said. “When we shoot the ball well (our team) has scored offensively, and right now we are just struggling to shoot the ball.”

Day, whose Bengals are known for their physicality, thought his team returned to a physical style of play that has allowed them to be successful.

“I thought we played well, and I thought we played hard,” Day said. “I thought our team played physical (in this contest).”

Missoula Sentinel 51, Missoula Big Sky 34

Sentinel defeated Big Sky 51-34 in the first round Western Class AA Tournament on Thursday night at Glacier High.

Sentinel, the No. 2 seeded team in the tournament, advances to play Capital at 8 p.m. Friday. Big Sky will play Flathead at 12:30 p.m. Friday in elimination game.

Sentinel coach Jay Jegelski tried to prepare his players for anything as his team headed into tournament time.

"I thought Big Sky had a great game-plan, and they really tried to slow the game down a lot," Jagelski said. "I told my team to expect the unexpected, and I thought they did a great job of responding to that."

Sentinel was led by Alex Germer with a team-high 13 points. Big Sky' Daniel Morin finished the night with 14 points.

Eagles coach Cory Sova said he felt his team played well in spite of the loss.

"(Sentinel) hit some early 3s and that put us behind the eight-ball a little bit," Sova said. "I really give a lot of credit to our kids, they moved the ball, and didn't panic, and they got it down to two or three (points) late in the third quarter, and early in the second quarter. (Sentinel) really caused some problems with their athleticism, and I was really proud of our kids on how they played."

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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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