Glacier hung tough for nearly three quarters against the top team in the division, but Missoula Hellgate seized control late to earn a 57-35 Western AA boys basketball victory on Saturday at Glacier High School.
The Knights (11-1 overall, 6-0 Western AA) were poised to pull away early, burying three shots from behind the arc to build a 13-2 lead to start the game. But the Wolfpack (4-8, 2-4) answered with a 12-0 run between the first and second quarters, led by 3-pointers from Weston Price and KJ Johnson.
Ethan Baines capped off the run with a nifty reverse layup early in the second quarter to give the Wolfpack its first — and only — lead of the game at 14-13.
“Offensively, we were getting what we wanted to. We were getting the post touches inside,” Glacier coach Mark Harkins said.
“We didn’t hit all the shots that we wanted to hit, but I thought we did a pretty good job as far as executing our offense,”
Hellgate hit a trey on the next possession to take back the lead and closed the half on a 15-1 run. Glacier struggled with the Knights’ size on defense and could not contain Rollie Worster — a University of Montana-commit — who scored 13 points in the first half en route to a game-high 25.
“Defensively … I thought our scheme [a 3-2 zone] was pretty good. But they’re a good team, they’re going to hit shots,” Harkins said.
The Wolfpack made some halftime adjustments to tighten things up on defense, and it helped trim the deficit to nine in the third quarter. Drew Engellant asserted himself in the paint and scored six in the frame.
But with just under two minutes to go in the quarter, Worster hit back-to-back, dagger 3-pointers to give the Knights a 16-point cushion.
“We lost Rollie a couple of times, and you can’t do that,” Harkins said.
“When you play good teams like Hellgate, your mistakes are magnified, and so we’ve got to clean up those mistakes that hurt us down the stretch.”
The Knights outscored Glacier 20-10 in the fourth quarter.
Drew Deck scored just four points but had another strong game at point guard.
“He didn’t play last year … but his handles are coming back and he’s so quick, he’s a nice player to have out there for sure,” Harkins said.
Engellant led Glacier in scoring with 11, and Michael Schwarz finished with six after hitting two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really proud of their effort, I didn’t think they backed down at all,” Harkins said.
“Hellgate is a good basketball team, and our challenge was to go and compete every play, and I thought they did that.”
Bridger Deden added 12 points for the Knights.
Next up for Glacier is a pivotal crosstown battle at Flathead (4-8, 1-5) on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The Wolfpack won the first clash 46-35 on Jan. 11.
Missoula Hellgate 13 15 9 20 – 57
Glacier 9 6 10 10 – 35
HELLGATE – Matt Baldridge 3, Bridger Deden 12, Logan Riddle 1, Dylan Holst 5, Rollie Worster 25, Fisher Richardson 6, Abe Johnson 5.
GLACIER – Drew Deck 4, Ethan Baines 2, KJ Johnson 5, Weston Price 5, Drew Engellant 11, Michael 6, Ben Desmul 2.