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KALISPELL - Joe Pistorese was not going to let the Kalispell Flathead boys' basketball team be denied a berth into the State AA tournament.

Behind a hot start and the hot hand of Pistorese, the Braves blew past Missoula Hellgate 64-42 in a Western AA playoff game Thursday evening.

Pistorese sank eight baskets from the field and finished with a game-high 19 points as Flathead snagged the league's third seed at state, which starts next Thursday in Billings. With the win, the Braves improved to 12-8.

Tanner Salois and Karl Ingram each scored 10 for Flathead, which scored 17 points from the free-throw line. Hellgate managed just a 9-of-18 effort from the charity stripe.

It didn't take long for the Braves to gain the upper hand. They entered the second quarter with a 17-8 lead and led by 17 at the end of the third.

The Knights, who closed the season 6-15, were led by junior Jesse Ginn's 18 points. Nick Joscelyn added a trio of 3-pointers and 11 points for Hellgate.

Hellgate 8 8 10 16 - 42

Flathead 17 11 15 21 - 64

HELLGATE - Sam Hall 3 0-2 7, Nick Joscelyn 4 0-0 11, Carsen Hopfauf 0 1-2 1, Brent Daugherty 0 0-4 0, Conner Weston 2 0-0 5, Jesse Ginn 5 8-10 18. Totals 14 9-18 42.

FLATHEAD - Tanner Salois 4 3-4 10, Ian Gillespie 1 0-0 3, Karl Ingram 3 4-10 10, Joe Pistorese 8 1-3 19, George Sherwood 1 4-7 6, Mike VanArendonk 1 1-1 3, Connor Tice 0 2-2 2, Jeremy Grosswiler 3 2-5 8. Totals 21 17-32 64.

3-point goals - Hellgate 5 (Joscelyn 3), Flathead 5 (Salois 2, Pistorese 2). Total fouls - Hellgate 24, Flathead 16. Fouled out - Hopfauf.

Elsewhere

Kalispell Glacier 54, Helena High 42

At Kalispell, senior Grahm Schmaltz led the Wolfpack past Helena in a Western AA playoff battle.

Schmaltz scored a team-high 14 points. He did most of his damage at the free-throw line, where he was 8 of 10.

Senior Shay Smithwick-Hann posted a double-double for Glacier (14-7) scoring 12 points to go with a game-best 16 rebounds. Colter Hanson added 10 for the Wolfpack, who lost Connor Fuller to a knee injury in the second quarter. He never returned.

The Bengals led by two at halftime before Glacier opened the second half on an 18-6 run. Tyler Hulse had 15 points for Helena, which ended the season 9-12.

The Wolfpack will meet Billings West in a first-round game at state next Thursday in Billings.

Helena 13 7 6 16 - 42

Glacier 13 5 18 18 - 54

HELENA - Tyler Hulse 6 2-6 15, Zach Hulse 2 2-5 6, Adam Johnson 4 2-4 10, Graham Bogumill 1 0-0 2, Justin Teegarden 1 0-0 2, Tyler Weideman 2 0-0 5, Dylan Simac 1 0-1 2, Josh Herrin 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 6-16 42.

GLACIER - Bryan Chery 1 0-0 3, Grahm Schmaltz 2 8-10 14, Marshall Boyland 1 2-2 4, Freddie Blodnick 1 0-1 2, Colter Hanson 5 0-1 10, Shay Smithwick-Hann 4 4-5 12, Logan Quay 2 1-2 5, Trey Griffith 1 0-0 2, Wiley Fusaro 1 0-0 2, Connor Fuller 0 0-0 0, Mario Venturini 0 0-0 0, Jacob Leininger 0 0-1 0. Totals 18 15-22 54.

3-point goals - Helena 2 (Z. Hulse, Weideman), Glacier 3 (Schmaltz 2). Total fouls - Helena 20, Glacier 19. Fouled out - none. Rebounds - Helena 37 (T. Hulse 10), Glacier 44 (Smithwick-Hann 16). Turnovers - Helena 14, Glacier 15.

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