The Capital High girls just may have found their groove.
Coming off a 70-point night at Missoula Big Sky on Tuesday, the Bruins dominated both ends of their home court on Thursday night, cruising to a 64-25 win over Missoula Hellgate.
And, in truth, after the first quarter it was never even that close.
“All week at practice we were working on our defense, and we just came out and dominated on defense and picked up our speed and intensity,” said Capital’s Kacie Gross, who finished with a game-high 14 points. “Our theme this year is ‘Tsunami,’ and I think we showed that tonight on defense, just coming at them and at them and at them, and not letting up.”
Hellgate managed to keep it close early, using a three-point play by Kylie Lunday to make it a three-point game after the first quarter. The Knights pulled to within one with a second-quarter bucket by Kaci Paffhausen in the paint.
And that’s when the tsunami hit.
The second- and third-chance looks the visitors were getting vanished.
The open looks they’d had in the first eight minutes were gone.
The traps they managed to break through began to instead result in turnovers.
Quickly the lead grew.
An Aryn Cummings 3-pointer made the advantage 10.
Then it was Shelby Van Hemelryck from deep, making the lead 13.
When the horn finally sounded -- after Gross converted a pair of baskets in the final 30 seconds of the half -- Capital had stormed ahead, 34-15.
“Just coming out in the third quarter, you kind of worry about whether or not we’re going to have a slip or something,” Bruin coach Bill Pilgeram said. “And we came out 21-2 in the third quarter.”
That they did. The Bruins allowed a single field goal in the third, all the while scoring almost at will. The defensive shutdown continued into the fourth quarter, which was nearly halfway through before Hellgate hit another shot from the field.
That meant, over a span of roughly 17 minutes, Capital allowed three field goals.
“We haven’t done that this year,” Pilgeram said. “We’re capable of doing things like that, and we keep talking about wanting bigger and bigger stretches of doing that, and we were able to find it tonight.”
All told, Hellgate finished shooting just 20 percent, hitting 7 of 35, while Capital hit 24 of 41 for a 58.5 percent shooting night. The Bruins also had nine assists -- the Knights had none -- and dominated the boards, 33-15.
In addition to Gross’ 14, Taylor Sullivan had 11 for Capital, while Megan Lindbo scored 10. Hellgate was paced by Paffhausen’s eight points. Maddie Hamilton had six, all from the free-throw line.
Capital improves to 9-5 overall, and 3-3 in Western Conference play. Hellgate, meanwhile, has now dropped five straight to fall to 4-9, 1-4.
“We just worked as a team,” Gross said. “Our communication was really great, and Sydney (Sheridan) up top was really forcing them to pass to the side and forced turnovers.
“I think this just shows everyone we’re a force to be reckoned with. We started out our season a little slow, and we didn’t have the record that we wanted, but we’re getting better and we’re the team we want to be.”