MISSOULA — Both the Helena High girls basketball team and failed federal appropriations bills have the same effect:
They shut things down.
On Saturday, the top-ranked, unbeaten Bengals put on yet another defensive clinic, shutting down Missoula Hellgate's offense in allowing just eight second-half points en route to a 49-25 win in Missoula.
It wasn't always easy for the undefeated Bengals. The Knights matched them point-for-point to start the contest and Helena led by just two at halftime.
"It was good for us to have a little adversity in the first half. We hadn't really seen that this year," Helena coach Eric Peterson said. "We went in at halftime and told them we're right where we wanted to be defensively, shots weren't falling, just be confident and be patient on offense coming out and we did that in the second half and it worked to our benefit."
The Bengals came out in the second half like they were shot out of a cannon. After scoring three quick points on free throws, Lady Griz signee Jamie Pickens led a fastbreak and found Payton Aasved for a corner three. On the next possession, Aasved drilled another triple from the corner, this time on a slick assist by Vanessa Walsh.
By the time the buzzer ended the third quarter, Helena had netted 20 points, one more than it had scored in the entire first half.
The Bengals slowed their offensive pace to start the fourth but clamped down even harder on defense. They held Hellgate scoreless until 1:19 remained in the game when Kylie Lunday hit a mid-range jumper to bring the final score to 49-25.
The Bengals were paced in scoring by Pickens' 16, Payton Aasved's 13 and Paige Aasved's 11.
Lunday and Addy Heaphy led the scoring charge for the Knights with six apiece.
Helena (8-0) will take on fellow class AA heavyweight and crosstown rival, Helena Capital, on Friday.
The Knights (3-3) will try to regroup against rival Missoula Sentinel on Saturday.