Hot-shooting Bruins crush Glacier for trip to state

Capital High coach Guy Almquist’s boys basketball teams have always prided themselves in their defense.

On Friday night in the Bears’ Den, with a berth in the State AA Tournament on the line against Glacier High, the Bruins’ defensive play added to that legacy. It also didn’t hurt that the Bruins played perhaps their best offensive game of the year.

In a 45-28 Western AA playoff victory over the Wolfpack, Capital’s defense helped limit Glacier to a paltry 23 percent accuracy (10 of 43) from the floor. The Bruins attempted nearly half as many field goals on the night, but they were quality looks — and they were successful on 60 percent (15 of 25) of their attempts. That number was even higher in the first half, where the hosts drained 12 of 17 from the floor, for a remarkable 70.6 percent accuracy.

Capital led 18-5 after the first quarter, 30-15 at halftime and 38-20 for their biggest advantage of the night heading into the final frame. Unlike the nip-and-tuck first two games between these clubs this year — Capital won both, with the second going into overtime — incredibly, a 3-point bomb by Riley Lamb to beat the buzzer at the half turned out to be the deciding basket.

The win improves the No. 3 Bruins to 12-9, while propelling the brown-and-gold into the Class AA tourney in Bozeman, March 10-12. Almquist’s teams have now qualified for State eight times during his 10-year career. The No. 6 Wolfpack’s season comes to an end with a 7-15 mark.

“The guys just did a great job; I’m very proud of them,” Almquist said. “We focused on playing with passion and purpose, and it took a lot of courage to execute the game plan the way they did in the first half.”

Perhaps the nail in the coffin for the visitors was a microscopic 9.52 percent effort (2 of 21) from 3-point land.

“We forced (Glacier) into the corners and made them take the long shots, we did a good job rebounding, and the guys were just very smart in their shot selection,” Almquist said. “And then in the second half it was mostly a game of organized keepaway on our part. I just really appreciate their overall effort tonight.”

The home team broke out on top early, 7-0, on a trey by Will Hunthausen and a pair of baskets by Bradley Haller and Connor Dowdy. Near the end of the frame, 5-foot-9 guard Danny Burton grabbed a defensive rebound and went for a coast-to-coast layup that built the cushion to 13-2.

Early in the second stanza, CHS’ Twin Towers connected on a scoring play, when the 6-4 Haller passed from the top of the key to the 6-7 Dowdy under the basket, making it 24-9.

Dowdy tossed in 13 points, going 5 of 7 from the floor and 3 for 6 at the free-throw line, while collecting five rebounds. He also blocked a shot, increasing his state-leading total to 49 stuffs, which Almquist believes may be the team’s modern-day record.

The Bruin senior post said it was a “great feeling” to get to State, an achievement to which he credited to the desire of the upper-classemen, and playing “solid defense, getting rebounds and staying composed when they trapped in the last part of the game.

“We have seven seniors, and we all wanted it so bad … we just went out and played our hearts out,” he added, speaking for fellow seniors Daniel O’Malley, Hunthausen, Burton, Lamb, Trevor Larson and Cody Lucas.

Hunthausen took three shots from beyond the arc and made all three for nine points. Lamb and Haller were next with six counters each, Haller speared six boards, and O’Malley passed for five assists.

The Kalispell club was paced by Noah Lindsay, with 10 points and eight rebounds, and Tadan Gilman’s eight points.

Capital 45, Glacier 28

Capital 45, Glacier 28

Glacier;5;8;7;8;–;28

Capital;18;12;8;7;–;45

GLACIER (7-15) — Blayne Bailey 1-5 3-4 5, Drake Dulin 0-2 1-2 1, Noah Lindsay 4-9 2-2 10, Jake Willich 0-2 0-0 0, Dylan Ruggles 1-5 0-1 2, John Learn 1-4 0-0 2, Pat O’Connell 0-1 0-0 0, Tadan Gilman 3-10 0-0 8, Jake Norberg 0-5 0-0 0; Totals 10-43 6-9 28.

CAPITAL (12-9) — Matt McGinley 0-0 0-0 0, Danny Burton 2-4 0-2 4, Riley Lamb 2-3 1-2 6, Jason Welnel 0-0 0-0 0, Daniel O’Malley 0-1 3-6 3, Will Hunthausen 3-3 0-4 9, Trevor Larson 1-2 1-3 4, Seth Schneider 0-0 0-0 0, Bradley Haller 2-5 2-2 6, Connor Dowdy 5-7 3-6 13, Cody Lucas 0-0 0-0 0, Conner Quick 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 15-25 10-25 45.

3-pointers — Gla 2-21 (Gilman 2-9), CHS 5-9 (Hunthausen 3-3, Lamb 1-2, Larson 1-2); Rebounds – Gla 25 (Lindsay 8), CHS 28 (Haller 6, Dowdy 5); Assists – Gla 6 (Willich 2), CHS 10 (O’Malley 5, Hunthausen 3); Turnovers – Gla 12, CHS 16; Fouls – Gla 22, CHS 12; Fouled out – Gilman; Technicals – Dulin

Curt Synness – Helena Independent Record

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