HELENA — Make that 25-straight wins for Missoula Hellgate’s boys basketball team and 33 consecutive regular season victories in a row. Cave LaRance and Beckett Arthur each scored 17 points as the Knights went on the road and beat Helena Capital 55-44 on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a game of runs,” Hellgate head coach Jeff Hays said. “Two games in a row where there have been runs. They started with a good one. I thought we battled back. We started the second half on a run that gave us some separation. We knew they weren’t going to quit.”
Hellgate has seemingly had Capital’s number each of the last four times these programs have met, going 4-0 against the Bruins. On Saturday, in a foggy and cold capital city, the Knights’ shooting stroke was anything but frosty.
LaRance made five of Hellgate’s seven 3-pointers on the evening, including back-to-back threes to begin the second half. Those triples broke a 27-27 tie at the break and sent the Knights on an 11-0 run out of the locker room.
“We made a good play to end the half and then we talked about the first three minutes of the second half,” Hays said. “I think every coach does, I don’t think it’s just me that’s saying, ‘hey, the first three minutes are important.’ We were also able to make a couple of adjustments that we wanted to do defensively.”
While the Bruins closed the gap with an 8-0 scoring streak of their own, they could just not match Hellgate’s shooting effort.
For the second half, the Knights went 12-for-21 from the field (57.1 percent), including 4-for-10 from three-point range. Arthur finished the first half with a dunk and came alive in the second half, finishing 8-for-15 from the field with four rebounds and four steals.
Holding a three-point lead heading into the game’s final quarter, Hellgate kept Capital at arm’s length with some extended possessions that often ended in high-percentage shots around the rim. That allowed the Knights to maintain a two to three possession margin throughout the contest’s later stages.
Ian Finch and Josh Wade were the only other Knights to score more than two points and finished with seven and six points, respectively.
Despite out-rebounding Hellgate 25-23, including 9-4 on the offensive glass, Capital shot a dreadful 26.9 percent (7-for-26) from the field and just 23.1 percent (3-for-13) from 3-point distance, in the second half.
“It was a great test,” Capital head coach Guy Almquist said. “That’s a good basketball team, a lot of athleticism. They had a good plan and forced some of our guys to do some things. Just sped us up a little bit. Of course everything looks a little different if you make a few shots. Certainly they had something to do with that.”
Brayden Koch led the Bruins with 14 points and Tyler Tenney added 13 points as the only other Capital player to break double digits. Senior Malachi Syvrud turned in an all-around good game finishing with seven points, eight rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes of play.
“I just told the guys, after watching us play for two games, I can see a little bit now where the potential is and I’m excited about it,” Almquist said. “We’re better now than we were one week ago because of experiences we’ve had these last two games.”
The Hellgate boys will be back in action on Thursday against Flathead on the road. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Capital returns to action on Tuesday against Missoula Big Sky on the road. Tip off for that game is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Email Daniel Shepard at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @IR_DanielS.