Sunday, July 14, 2024
53.0°F

Braves start and finish fast, swamp Bengals

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | January 30, 2021 9:18 PM

Two days removed from a sobering loss at Helena Capital, the Flathead Braves turned the tables on Helena High, going on big runs early and late in a 51-24 Western AA basketball victory.

Joston Cripe scored 17 points and Hunter Hickey added 15 as Flathead defended its home court and improved to 4-3. Helena may be winless, but you still couldn’t predict this first quarter: The Braves blocked five shots, surrendered one free throw and seized a 15-1 lead.

“We started off fast,” Flathead coach Dirk Johnsrud said. “I thought we dictated tempo off the get-go. That was a huge plus for the Braves today.”

Hickey had six points in the first quarter, including a dunk he rattled home against Helena’s pressure to make it 13-1.

“Joston got the ball in the middle and I just kind of cut baseline,” said Hickey, who had 13 points by halftime. “He dished it off and I just went up for it.”

The Bengals (0-7) didn’t hit a field goal until nine minutes in, when Cale Murgel scored inside. The gap grew to 28-5 and was 32-7 at intermission.

Helena dialed up its physical defense and opened the third quarter with 12 straight points. Burgin Luker, who had 10 points, hit a three to draw the Bengals to 32-19 at the 4:19 mark.

Helena was rebounding and forcing turnovers and getting the home crowd a little concerned; the score was 37-24 after Helena’s Kaden Huot scored with 5:23 left in the game.

Those were the last Bengal points. Reserve Gavin Chouinard showed up big with a trio of steals and four points in a closing 14-0 Flathead run. Gabe Adams had three steals in the final quarter, and grabbed a trio of rebounds to get to 11 on the day.

Cripe hit a 3-pointer that made it 42-24 with 3:49 remaining, and that was that.

“Joston handled some adversity today,” said Johnsrud. “I thought he had a pretty good game. He was frustrated with some of his turnovers, but I enjoy watching him play. He’s a spark plug out there.”

On Thursday the Braves were shot out of the gym by Capital’s Brayden Koch and committed 26 turnovers.

“You can’t do that on the road in AA,” Johnsrud said.

The total dropped to 17 Saturday, with many coming in Flathead’s rocky third quarter.

“We are working through those lulls,” Johnsrud said. “We need to find some composure when we’re starting to turn the ball over a little bit. Keep executing our offense – that’s something I’ll look at this week and hope we can eliminate those lulls.”

Flathead’s next game is Thursday, on the road at Missoula Big Sky.

Helena 1 6 12 5 - 24

Flathead 15 17 3 16 - 51

HELENA (0-7) - Evan Barber 1-7 0-2 2, Kaden Huot 2-10 2-2 6, Sam Norum 0-4 0-0 0, Burgin Luker 4-10 0-0 10, Austin Zeiler 1-6 1-2 4, Kade Schelpp 0-2 0-2 0, Colter Petre 0-2 0-0 0, Cael Murgel 1-2 0-0 2, Dylan Christman 0-1 0-0 0, Hayden Mason 0-0 0-0 0, Payton Tavary 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 9-44 3-8 24.

FLATHEAD (4-3) - Ethan VandenBosch 3-7 0-0 8, Gabe Adams 1-6 0-0 2, Ezra Epperly 0-4 3-6 3, Hunter Hickey 6-11 3-5 15, Joston Cripe 5-11 4-5 17, Luke Leach 0-0 0-0 0, Joe Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Luca Zoeller 0-0 0-0 0, Gavin Chouinard 1-1 4-4 6, Connor Phillips 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Larson 0-1 0-0 0, Drew Lowry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-41 14-20 51.

3-point goals - Helena 3-15 (Luker 2-6, Zeiler 1-2, Schlepp 0-1, Petre 0-1, Barber 0-3, Huot 0-2), Flathead 3-11 (VandenBosch 2-5, Cripe 1-2, Hickey 0-2, Adams 0-1, Larson 0-1). Rebounds - Helena 34 (Barber 9), Flathead 31 (Adams 11). Fouls - Helena 17, Flathead 14. Fouled out - none. Blocks - Helena 3 (Norum 3), Flathead 98 (Epperly 4, Adams 2, VandenBosch, Hickey, Cripe). Steals - Helena 10 (Luker 4), Flathead 14 (Cripe 5). Turnovers - Helena 23, Flathead 17.

photo

Flathead's Ezra Epperly (33) shoots over Helena's Sam Norum (34) at Flathead High School on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

photo

Flathead's Ethan VandenBosch (21) drives to the basket against Helena's Evan Barber (23) at Flathead High School on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

photo

Flathead's Joston Cripe (34) drives to the basket against Helena at Flathead High School on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

photo

Flathead's Hunter Hickey (10) shoots over Helena's Evan Barber (23) at Flathead High School on Saturday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)