HELENA — Addy Heaphy scored 13 points on Thursday night as Missoula Hellgate dispatched the Helena High Bengals 54-28 in the capital city.
Employing a full-court press from the onset, Missoula Hellgate jumped out to a quick 10-0 run and never looked back. Despite shooting just 37 percent from the field, Hellgate's defense kept the Bengals under control for much of the contest.
“Girls gave a lot of effort and they all had great attitudes all throughout it,” Knights assistant coach Brady Henthorn said. “It was a great team experience, got a lot of good rotations in there and they just came down and executed what we were working on in practice the last couple weeks. Fun to watch, fun to do it with these girls. Just nice to see them keep trying all four quarters.”
With active hands and plenty of talking on the defense end of the court, Hellgate built a healthy 16-9 lead after eight minutes that ballooned to a 13-point lead by halftime.
Alex Covil, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, scored eight points and was a steadying presence for the Knights on the inside. Bailee Sayler knocked down five field goals to join Heaphy in double digits with 12 points.
With consistent pressure on Helena High throughout, the Knights were able to force numerous Bengal turnovers, leading to quick transition buckets on the other end.
“To be honest, I thought we handled their press really well in the first half,” Bengals head coach Ben Dudek said. “I thought we got reversals, we were under control. It was once the ball got into the front court that we struggled. We turned the ball over a little bit more than we would have wanted to in the front court, but we were expecting that. I thought we did a really nice job in the first half controlling the pace, it’s just making that finishing play that we’ll have to work on.”
Kim Feller and Kylie Lantz scored a combined 23 points for the Bengals, accounting for over 82 percent of their total scoring on the evening.
While Hellgate returned the bulk of its roster from last season, Helena High features a crop of players without extended experience on the court. Despite the Bengals rallying from their initial 10-0 deficit, cutting the lead to 10-7 with 2:23 left in the first quarter, the Knights consistently continued building their lead.
“We love our defensive pressure right now,” Hellgate head coach Rob Henthorn said. “We’ve been working on that since Day 1. We want to get these girls to know that defense makes a big difference. Our shooting percentage was 38 percent, which was not very good from the field. Free throws were even worse than that. The idea is, we’re getting in the flow of the game, we’re trying to stay within ourselves and we’re just playing hard.”
Helena High scored no more than nine points in a quarter and were outscored by at least six points in each of the second through fourth quarters.
Hellgate will be back in action on Saturday when they welcome Helena Capital to Missoula for a 4:30 p.m. tip off. Helena High will also play its second game of the season on Saturday when the Bengals travel to Butte. Tip off for that contest is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.