Leary free throw, rebound send Bulldogs to State AA

Wolfpack sends Missoula Hellgate packing

HELENA — Kenley Leary followed the biggest free throw of his life with his best miss.

That resulted in Butte High making its third straight trip to the Butte High Class AA State boys’ basketball tournament. Butte High will also play for third place at the Western AA Divisional after knocking off Helena High 60-59 at the Capital High Gym. (Stats)

Butte High will take on Kalispell Glacier, which knocked off Missoula Hellgate 51-39 at Carroll College, a 3:30 p.m. at the P.E. Center.

That is all thanks to a free throw and then an incredible rebound by Leary, Butte High’s feisty senior point guard.

Seconds after Cael Murgel hit a 3-poitner to tie the game at 59, Leary was fouled on the inbound pass. He went to the free throw line with 3.5 seconds left.

Leary sank the first free throw to put the Bulldogs up one. Then, with all of his teammates on the other side of the court ready to defend, Leary missed the second free throw.

The ball hit the front of the rim, and Leary leaped to secure the rebound. He then dribbled to the ball out to run out the clock, and the celebration was on.

The game-winning point was the 19th of the game for Leary, who scored 15 points in the first half to lead Butte High to a 28-24 halftime advantage.

Butte High led 42-39 after three quarters and was able to hang on thanks to some clutch play by Bo Demarais, Cameron Gurnsey, Kooper Klobucar, Jonas Sherman and Jace Stenson.

Gurnsey had a big charge take late, and Demarais had a key put back.

Stenson finished with 15 points, and 13 of those came in the second half. He also led the team with nine rebounds. Klobucar scored eight points, Gurnsey tossed in seven, Demarais scored five, Sherman tossed in four, and Dylan Bache scored two.

Tocher Lee, a freshman, also contributed in the season-saving Butte High victory.

Colter Petre scored 20 points to lead the Bengals, who close the season at 8-13 with their first loss to the Bulldogs in three meetings.

Kaden Huot added 5 points and nine rebounds, and Trevin Wetzel scored nine. Murgel finished with seven points and 11 boards, matching Dylan Christmas in the board category. Christmas also scored five points.

Butte High heads to the third-place game at 6-15.

The State tournament begins Thursday at the Billings Metra.

Kalispell Glacier 51, Missoula Hellgate 39
The Wolfpack outscored Hellgate 15-4 in the fourth quarter of the loser-out game. (Stats)

Connor Sullivan scored 18 points to lead three Glacier players in double figures. Ty Olsen scored 11, and Tyler McDonald tossed in 10 for Glacier, which takes an 11-10 record to the third-place game.

Connor Dick scored 16 points to lead the Knights, who head home with a 16-5 record.