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Sparked by Jamie Pickens' team highs of 17 points and eight rebounds, the Helena High girls captured a win in their conference opener on Friday, with a 51-45, come-from-behind victory on the road over Glacier High.

Helena trailed 15-8 after the first quarter, 19-17 at halftime and 32-25 heading into the fourth. But then the Lady Bengals caught fire, scorching the net for 26 points in the final frame, compared to 13 by Glacier, to pull off the six-point victory.

HHS improves to 6-1 overall, and 1-0 in the Western AA.

Kamden Hilborn was next in the scoring column for Helena, with 12 points, followed by Taelyr Krantz's eight markers.

Nikki Krueger led the Lady Wolfpack with a game-high 18 points.

Capital girls cruise to Western AA win

Capital High's girls basketball team led all the way in the conference opener in Kalispell on Friday, taking the measure of the Flathead Bravettes 52-39.

Sparked by sophomore guard Sydney Sheridan's game-high 19 points, the Lady Bruins improve to 6-2 overall and 1-0 in the Western AA.

Capital was in front 11-7 after the opening quarter, took and a 23-11 cushion into halftime, and built the advantage to 16 points, 38-22, heading into the final frame.

Next in the scoring column after Sheridan were Taylor Sullivan with 12 points, and five counters each by Aubrey McMaster and Shelby VanHemelryck.

Flathead was paced by Kylee Meredith's 15 points.

Jefferson swept by Deer Lodge

DEER LODGE — When the Jefferson offense was stopped on the inside, it tried to move beyond on the arc.

Neither tactic worked in overcoming Deer Lodge's stout defense in a 45-27 nonconference road loss on Friday night.

In the final quarter, the Panthers got themselves back on track thanks to free throws. Jefferson was sent to the free-throw line six times in the opening three minutes of the period, and converted on four attempts to go along with a jumper from Noah Fader.

Jefferson returned to the charity stripe six more times in the final 45 seconds of the game. It was one of the Panthers' highest-scoring quarters, but it was too little too late as their night was marred by poor shooting and turnovers.

“The biggest thing was turnovers and we weren’t making shots.” Jefferson coach Clint Layng said. “Even shots in the paint. We missed numerous, numerous shots in the paint and some pretty easy ones. We missed 10 free throws as well. And turnovers. That pretty much sums it up.”

Jefferson was led by Fader who had nine points. Freshman Jaxson Yanzick and sophomore Bryce Harrington chipped in four points apiece.

The Deer Lodge girls had a tougher battle with Jefferson, but the Wardens came out on top with a 38-33 win.

During the first quarter, the Wardens were able to stay one step ahead. In the second frame, the Panthers took their first lead of the night when senior Hanna Grimsrud hit a jumper to pull ahead 14-13. Both teams traded buckets and the Wardens went into the locker room with a 17-16 lead.

During the third quarter, both teams continued to shoot lights out as the Panthers tied up the game twice. But Deer Lodge asserted its shooting dominance when they dropped two 3-pointers and a jumper to pull ahead 30-24. The Wardens scored a game-high 17 points in the third quarter as freshman Rachel Nicholson added nine points to the board.

In the fourth quarter, the Wardens pulled away for the win.

Junior Leah Vossler led the Panthers with 13 points. Fellow junior Ellie Evertz chipped in nine points.

-- Alexandria Valdez

Townsend splits with Whitehall

The Townsend girls beat Whitehall 53-37 on Friday, powered by Lainee Hill's 17-point effort. Teammate Catie Watson had 9 points.

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The Townsend boys weren’t as fortunate, falling 56-42.

The Bulldogs trailed by 10 at the half, 30-20, and never were able to make up that ground. Payden Anderson led the way in the loss with 10 points, while Easton Hatfield added nine.

Both Jefferson and Townsend were competing at the Choteau Invitational on Friday.

Townsend is faring extremely well going into Saturday’s competition and is in second place with 67 points – just 1 ½ back of leading Malta. Plains-Hot Springs is third at 65.5.

Bulldog wrestlers have 4 in the semis and 5 more in wrestlebacks.

Bulldogs who went unbeaten the first day to reach the semifinals were Easton Held at 113 pounds, Jack Dolan at 126, Kameron Rauser at 132 and Justin Large at 182. Townsend grapplers still alive in the wrestlebacks are Will Lane (126), Nathan Gallegos (138), Cale Bergstad (152) and Derek Neel (160).

Jefferson’s Nick Workman qualified for the semifinals in the 205-pound class, while teammates Jacob Travis (138) and Asher Oliver (182) are still alive in the wrestlebacks.Jefferson is in 16th place after the first day with 24 points.

Wild storms past Bighorns

They took the early lead, but ultimately the Helena Bighorns weren’t able to hold on, falling on the road Friday to the Gillette Wild, 5-2.

The third-place Wild were in a one-goal hole after john Heddle scored just 2:39 into the game for the visitors. But then, in the second, Cole Cirks and Brooks Mitzel both scored in just over a minute to put the Wild on top. Cirks added another goal with 3:19 to play in the frame to make it a 3-1 Gillette lead.

Ben Kottmeier scored late in the third for the Bighorns, but his goal was sandwiched by a pair from Gillette, resulting in the final margin.

Nicholas Battaglia played well in the loss, stopping 46 of 50 shots faced.

The teams will pair off again on Saturday.

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