Sam Beighle and Missoula Sentinel had some magical shots in Thursday’s crosstown matchup at the Knights’ gym.
The Spartans just needed a couple more.
Missoula Hellgate survived a fourth quarter flurry from Sentinel that forced overtime where the Knights’ poise carried them to a 60-53 win.
"We just a couple more plays than they did and that's what this game came down to," Hellgate coach Jeff Hays said. "...They made some shots and I still don't think we lost our composure which I was pleased with."
The Hellgate girls gave unbeaten Sentinel a scare in the nightcap, but the Spartans kept their record unblemished with a 32-28 win. It just took a little longer to get to the girls' game.
Missoula Hellgate boys 60, Missoula Sentinel 53
It might not make any sense, but the biggest shot of the night -- in both importance and sheer distance from the hoop -- may have come from the losing team.
With 34 seconds remaining and Hellgate leading 45-42, Beighle spotted up from at least six feet from behind the arc for the Spartans. Even with the Knights defending well, the Sentinel junior let the 3-point shot free from Steph Curry range.
He nailed it.
"He's just a gamer. That kid knows how to win," Sentinel coach Jay Jagelski said of his guard. "Obviously it didn't work out tonight, but he has that will to win and when he's like that, we get on his back and we're going to carry it out as long as we can."
Beighle, who finished with a game-high 26 points, had 10 in the fourth quarter, none bigger than his game-tying triple that ultimately forced overtime. His shot from way behind the arc was the ultimate capper in a 10-2 run over the last 3:44.
The Knights, though, rode a wave of support at a packed house, plus some solid play in the paint in OT for the win.
The extra period started with a Kade Lunday post move that instantly settled the tempo for the Knights. Beighle answered with a spinning up-and-under layup on the other end to knot it at 47's.
"Gotta give credit to Beighle for keeping his team in the game, hitting those big shots, but we stayed in it and battled back," Hellgate's Landon Youbles said.
Youbles followed with some solid play of his own, earning a rebound and a bucket all in one motion. His tip shot made it 49-47 with 2:57 to play and the Knights would never lose the lead again.
Not only was the win big for Garden City bragging rights, it moved Hellgate (6-2 in conference, 12-4 overall) into a virtual tie with Sentinel for second place. The Spartans (6-2, 8-8) had beaten the Knights back on Jan. 6.
Missoula Sentinel girls 32, Missoula Hellgate 28
Hellgate's team 2-3 defense and some clutch shooting was nearly enough to deliver what would have been one of the biggest upsets in the Class AA this season.
"Team defense, we worked our buttons off on defense. Nobody gave up, bench came in and played hard," Hellgate coach Rob Henthorn said.
Oh, what could have been Knights.
Hellgate twice tied it up in the fourth quarter, but Sentinel's ability to get to the free-throw line proved to be the difference. The Spartans had just one field goal in the second half, but they were 20 for 28 from the line for the game.
"Nights like that happen sometimes and they persevered through it and got the W," Sentinel coach Karen Deden said. "It was good that we made those free throws."
Sentinel's Kylie Frohlich was a perfect 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the fourth, and she finished with a game-high 15 points.
Frohlich's fourth quarter countered two 3-pointers from Syd Riddle in the final eight minutes. Hellgate's senior guard, who scored eight points in the fourth, finished with a team-high 11 points.
In the end, though, the Spartans (8-0, 16-0) were just too tough. Hellgate fell to 2-6, 5-11 in the final crosstown matchup for the season.