HELENA — The Capital High girls basketball team, which was ranked in the top-three of the 406mtsports.com poll for most of the year, is playing in their 11th state tournament during coach Bill Pilgeram’s 12-year tenure.
Capital (18-4) is the West’s No. 3 seed, and will face the East’s No. 2 Billings Senior (18-4) on Thursday, in the tourney’s opening game at 9 a.m. in Billings’ Rimrock MetraPark.
Missoula Sentinel and Billings West are the divisional champs. The title contest is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Bruins hold a 49-34 scoring advantage over their opponents, while Senior outscores its opposition 51-39.
“Everybody is 0-0 again and so we need to have a confident, aggressive mindset that any team putting together three games in a row can win the state championship,” said Pilgeram, who owns a state title (2015) and runner-up (2007) on his resume. “I think there are a number of teams going in who are capable of winning this tournament.
“For that to be us, we need to continue our core value of defense and rebounding and be as efficient as possible on offense.”
Taylor Sullivan, a 6-foot-3 senior post, is scoring 10.1 ppg and leads the AA with a 53-percent field goal accuracy. She ranks No. 8 in the state in rebounding at 6.8 boards a game.
Sullivan is second in the AA with 58 blocked shots as well, which shattered her CHS record of 46 stops from last season, while lifting her total for the last two years to 104 blocks.
Teammate Sydney Sheridan, a 5-8 junior guard, averages 9.2 points, and is No. 7 in the state at 2.8 assists per game. She sits atop the AA leaderboard in free-throw accuracy at 79.4-percent (50 of 63) and is third in steals with 53 swipes.
Next in the Bruins scoring column is Kacie Gross averaging 8.5 points, ahead of Megan Lindbo's 5.8 points, followed by Emily Kidder and Dani Bartsch, at 4.7 and 3.9 ppg, respectively.
Katie Culver, one of the conference’s scrappiest ball hawks, averages 6.1 boards and 3.2 points.
“Minimizing turnovers and getting great shots on every possession are key to our success,” Pilgeram said. "And depth and leadership also play a big role in a state tournament, which I feel is a great strength of our team.”