Dani Bartsch versus Kalispell Flathead 2021

Capital senior Dani Bartsch elevates for a lay-up against Kalispell Flathead on Thursday night.

HELENA  The Helena Capital girl’s basketball team sent its seniors off in style on Thursday night with a 54-35 win over Kalispell Flathead for the group’s final regular season home game.

“I think that senior night there’s a lot of emotions that go into it,” Capital head coach Katie Garcin-Forba said. “These girls have spent a ton of time together, it was just great to see them be able to be on the court together.”

Capital, whose senior class stands at seven players this year, saw all but two of its points on Thursday scored by a senior. Mara McGinley sank five 3-pointers on seven attempts for a game-high 15 points, while Dani and Paige Bartsch combined for another 22 points.

The latter Bartsch, who is usually the tallest player on the court every time she steps foot on one, notched a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds. She nearly out-rebounded Flathead by herself and pulled down six of Capital’s 13 offensive boards on the evening.

With Paige locking down the inside with a game-high three blocked shots, her sister was racking up 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting, six rebounds and and five assists to go with one steal.

“I’m definitely happy we got the win, I think that’s very important,” Dani Bartsch said. “I’m happy I got to finish it out with the seven girls I’ve been playing with since the fifth grade. It’s fun to end it with them.”

Audrey Hofer, Keetyn Sayers and Jaymee Sheridan combined for 15 points in the win, while Carlie Gross earned the start and played nine minutes on Thursday.

Through the opening half, Flathead battled with Capital. Just a six-point game at halftime, the Bravettes fought back from a 10-0 Bruin run in the first quarter with some clutch shooting.

Capital, however, ended the third quarter on a 9-0 run and stretched it to a 16-0 streak to take a 50-28 lead in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we started finishing better,” Garcin-Forba said of the run. “We struggled a little bit finishing around the rim and the girls responded at halftime. I thought we were just more settled. We played a more complete second half, I thought, for what we want to do.”

A 12-for-17 (70.6 percent) effort shooting the basketball in the second half helped Capital with that, as did a plus-13 rebounding margin for the home team.

Flathead shot nearly 43 percent in the game’s final 16 minutes, but did not seem to have an answer for Capital’s press-break offense down the stretch. Freshman Kennedy Moore paced Flathead with 13 points, while sophomore Maddy Moy chipped in nine points on 4-for-7 shooting.

“Once we started opening up the floor that way and we got it diagonal up the sideline, it leads for us to be able to get lay-ups and for us to be able to get some easier looks that way,” Garcin-Forba said. “I thought the girls did a good job of adjusting to that once they saw [the press] a couple of times.”

After out-scoring Capital 14-12 in the second quarter, Flathead managed just 13 points for the remainder of the game as the Bruins built a lead as big as 22 points in the second half.

For Capital, a team that has now won nine games in a row and sits atop the Western AA standings, chemistry among its seniors continues to shine through every game. The ball movement and cuts made by players, as well as the success shooting the basketball, have helped drive the offensive machine that keeps Capital in the win column.

“We’re all friends off the court and on the court,” Dani said. “Playing together since such a young age, you definitely know what each other is going to do. That definitely helps with our chemistry and momentum.”

The Bruins improve to 10-1 on the season with just one game remaining on the regular season schedule, while Flathead drops to 2-8.

“I think that we’re clicking really well,” Garcin-Forba said. “We were having some offensive struggles early on and we’ve really righted the ship at this point. I feel confident with where we’re headed that way, and our defense continues to improve. They’re on a mission and they have goals for themselves and for our team, so I’m excited to see where they take us the next few weeks.”

Capital will be back in action next Saturday against Missoula Big Sky on the road. Tip off for that game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Flathead plays host to Helena on Saturday with a start time of 4 p.m.

Email Daniel Shepard at daniel.shepard@406mtsports.com or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.

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