BUTTE — Missoula Hellgate started three freshmen and two seniors, then walloped Billings Senior 61-34 Thursday in the first game of the state Class AA high school girls’ basketball tournament in the Butte Civic Center.
Senior Emma Blakely led the Knights with 16 points, and 6-foot freshman Bailee Sayler hooped 14 points and nabbed nine rebounds as Hellgate raised its record to 14-8. The Knights will play in the 6:30 Friday night semifinal game.
Hellgate grabbed a narrow 12-10 in a back-and-forth first quarter, but found its offense in the latter part of the second period and held a 32-20 advantage at halftime. Their 21-5 command of the fourth quarter put away the win. The Knights’ ability to slash to the basket for feeds from the high post drew a lot of fouls from the Broncs. Hellgate cashed in on 12 of 25 free throw attempts.
Lily Johnson was Billings Senior’s leading scorer with 10 points. The Broncs were limited to 1-for-2 foul shooting and were dominated on the boards by a 42-23 rebounds margin. Twenty of Hellgate’s rebounds came on the offensive end.
Billings Senior fell to 7-15 with the loss. The Broncs will play a loser-out game on Friday at noon.
— Bruce Sayler, buttesports.com