MISSOULA — A little over a month into the season, the Missoula Hellgate Knights are still firing on on cylinders. Undefeated against Montana competition, the Knights put on another dominant performance Thursday night, this time at the expense of the Helena Capital Bruins, in a 71-51 victory.
Hoping to keep Hellgate's extreme height advantage in check, the Bruins opened with a 2-3 zone defense, but the Knights were more than up to the task.
"It was one of those nights where we moved the basketball really well. Not only did we move the basketball, but we moved our players as well," said Hellgate coach Jeff Hays. "We cut with a purpose, we got the ball side to side and early in the game we passed up open threes for better looks and when we got a few of those to fall early, that gave us confidence for some of those perimeter shots later on."
And indeed the Knights moved the ball well with many of their possessions resulting in a series of Greg Popovich-esque open looks without taking a dribble.
Rollie Worster had a field day from the point guard position as he was able to find slashing wings Fisher Richardson and Bridger Deden on open cuts as well as feed the ball to 6-foot-8 Abe Johnson in the post.
The Knights also showcased their aerial abilities when 6-foot-5 wing Dylan Holst caught a lob from Fisher Richardson and jammed it down with authority to ignite the crowd and open the second quarter with a statement.
"My teammates and I were on a roll and playing really well together. Coach called the play and it just kinda happened," Holst said.
Holst nearly caught another in the third quarter. The ball somehow found the bottom of the net, but he couldn't quite finish cleanly over the Capital defender as he was fouled. Holst added onto his stellar night in the fourth quarter when he hit three triples to put the game on ice.
Helena nearly matched the Knights' second quarter scoring output as Bridger Grovom and Trevor Swanson each drilled two 3-pointers, but the early first quarter deficit was too much to overcome. The Bruins were paced in scoring by Swanson and Shane Haller, who finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Knights had five players in double figures, led by Holst's 17 points and complemented by 13 from both Deden and Richardson.
Hellgate moves to 6-1 on the season. The Knights visit Helena High on Saturday.
Capital dropped to 3-5 and will look to regain its footing in a crosstown rivalry game at Helena High next Thursday.