Missoula Hellgate handed Flathead its fourth consecutive loss as it cruised to a 58-30 victory over the Bravettes in Western AA girls basketball action on Thursday at Flathead High School.
Flathead (5-6 overall, 1-4 Western AA) had an encouraging start when Maddie Walter and Sadie Wilson nailed two triples to give the home team a 6-2 advantage. But the lead evaporated quickly, as the Knights (7-4, 3-2) seized control of the game with an aggressive zone defense that gave the Bravettes few open looks at the hoop.
“We could not get in a flow,” Flathead coach Tricia Dean said.
“I think that they executed their 1-2-2 [zone] really well, and it just put us in a position where we always kind of felt like our backs were on the ropes a little bit.”
Hellgate was as physical on offense as it was on defense. The Knights dominated the paint and grabbed numerous offensive rebounds to earn easy shots from close-range.
Kylie Lunday was especially lethal in the post, scoring nine points in the first half.
It all led to a 13-8 Hellgate lead after the first quarter and a commanding 27-11 lead at halftime.
“I thought we were once again settling for too many outside shots. We needed to get to the hoop more,” Dean said.
For the second consecutive game the Bravettes had just one 2-point basket in the first half, a steal and fast-break layup by Taylor Henley late in the first quarter.
The Knights did an excellent job of taking Henley — Flathead’s leading scorer — out of the game.
“In the first half we could probably count on one hand how many touches she even got on the offensive side of the ball,” Dean said.
“Hellgate played a really, really good game defensively.”
Flathead found some success on offense in the third quarter. But Hellgate thwarted any comeback attempt as it burned the Bravettes’ full-court press for fast-break layups and got hot from beyond the arc.
Jenna Johnson was the lone bright spot for the Bravettes. She scored a game-high 16 points — 13 in the second half — and buried four 3-pointers.
“I think she played really hard. When we were in here at halftime and talking about going to the hoop, she really took that to heart,” Dean said.
In the fourth quarter, Johnson made the Bravettes’ only two free throws of the game.
Addy Heaphy and Lunday paced the Knights with 13 points each, and Bailee Sayler added 12.
“Give credit to Hellgate. They’re a really good, young team and they’re playing with a ton of confidence right now, and we didn’t match their level of intensity,” Dean said.
For Flathead, Dean said, it is about putting this one behind them and looking to the next game at Missoula Sentinel on Saturday.
“They’re going to be a really tough game for us. We have to be ready to go for sure.”
Missoula Hellgate 13 14 21 10 – 30
Flathead 8 3 10 9 – 58
HELLGATE – Addy Heaphy 13, Emma Blakely 5, Peyton Arledge 5, Kinsey Henthorn 2, Perry Paffhausen 2, Bailee Sayler 12, Lauren Dick 4, Keke Davis 2, Kylie Lunday 13.
FLATHEAD – Emily Lembke 2, Sadie Wilson 3, Maddie Walter 5, Jenna Johnson 16, Taylor Henley 4.