BILLINGS — Three players scored in double figures as No. 4 seed Kalispell Glacier upset No. 1 Billings West 50-40 to cap the first round of the Class AA state basketball tournament Thursday night at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
Anna Schrade led the Wolfpack with 12, Kali Gulick scored 11, and Ellie Stevens added 10 points as Glacier advanced and will take on defending champion Helena in the semifinals on Friday night.
In the last two weeks, the Wolfpack (14-9) have beaten Missoula Sentinel, which earned the Western AA's top seed, and have now ended West's state-best 12-game winning streak.
"We've just gotten so close over the season that when we can have wins like that, it's just a good feeling to be able to do this with people you love playing with," said Gulick, who also had 11 rebounds.
Glacier jumped to a 15-9 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, leading West the rest of the way. The Golden Bears pulled within 40-34 on two free throws by Willa Albrecht with 5:27 to play, but Schrade scored five unanswered points to build the lead back up.
The win by the Wolfpack made it a clean sweep of Western AA teams over Eastern AA in the opening round.
"We know the West is good, we know Billings West and Billings Senior over here are good, we just didn't know where they stack up in comparison to us," Glacier coach Bill Sullivan said. "We were going to come and find out. Certainly those three (Western AA) teams got it done and one thing that was mentioned as we came out of the locker room was we had to finish the sweep. Certainly the girls were focused, ready to do that, and we did."
TyRaa Manuel scored 13 points to lead the Golden Bears (18-3), who will play Great Falls CMR in a loser-out game Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Helena 59, Great Falls CMR 38
Defending champion Helena dominated from start to finish en route to a convincing 59-38 victory over Great Falls CMR.
Jamie Pickens led the way with 26 points for the Bengals, who will take on Glacier at 5 p.m. in the semifinals on Friday.
The Bengals (19-3) returned just two players — Pickens and Kamden Hilborn — with any significant playing time last season. But coach Eric Peterson said his team showed him early this year that another special season could be in store.
"We knew we had some guns coming up, we just didn't know how long it would take us to gel and it didn't take long at all," Peterson said. "We were playing pretty well at the beginning of the year, but this last month we've been playing really, really well."
Pickens, a 6-foot-2 junior who has already committed to Montana, made 7 of 18 shots, including 4 of 7 from the 3-point line. She also had six rebounds and four steals. McKayla Kloker added eight points, and Hilborn had seven points and seven rebounds.
"Our girls came ready to go today and we were really focused," said Hilborn, Helena's lone senior. "We weren't going to overlook anybody, especially CMR because they're a great team. They were looking for that upset so we wanted to come and do business right away."
Helena stifled CMR in the first half in grabbing a 30-18 halftime lead. CMR only shot 32 percent from the field and only made 1 of 12 attempts from three. Allie Olsen led the way for the Rustlers (13-10) with 11 points.
Missoula Sentinel 55, Bozeman 37
The three teams that have beaten Missoula Sentinel this season have now all been paid back.
Bozeman was the latest victim, as Sentinel put three players in double digits and defeated the Hawks 55-37 in a first-round game.
Kylie Frohlich led all scorers with 19 points, Jordyn Schweyen added 14 and Lexi Deden added 11 points for the Spartans (18-3).
Bozeman defeated Sentinel in five overtimes earlier this year. Glacier and Helena beat Sentinel at the end of the regular season, but the Spartans defeated both at last weekend's Western AA Divisional.
"Everyone plays their best game at state, so we just wanted to come in like we know how to play and just play our best ball from the start," said Frohlich, who made 8 of 12 shots from the floor.
Bozeman grabbed a 19-18 lead but Deden answered and the Spartans never trailed again. They closed the game with staunch defense and only allowed four fourth-quarter Bozeman points.
"I thought Bozeman had a good game plan, they really attacked the basket well," Sentinel coach Karen Deden said. "We made some adjustments at halftime that helped us defensively and our kids just stood strong mentally and played through it."
Sentinel will meet Helena Capital, which rallied to beat Billings Senior in the tourney opener, in Friday's 3:30 p.m. semifinal. The Spartans have given up just 51 points in two wins over the Bruins.
Bozeman will play Senior at 9 a.m. on Friday in a loser-out game. Alex Carey scored 18 points to lead the Hawks (10-13).
Helena Capital 40, Billings Senior 36
It was somewhat stunning to see, the halftime scoreboard. Class AA's best defensive team, Helena Capital, had already allowed just four fewer points to Billings Senior than its full game average.
That fact didn't sit well in the Bruins' locker room, either.
"Giving them 30 (points) in one half was just not OK with us," said Capital senior Taylor Sullivan.
So Capital (19-4) went out and turned a 12-point halftime deficit into a 40-36 win over the Broncs in the opening game of the tournament.
Emily Kidder led the Bruins with 11 points and Kacie Gross tallied nine as Capital completed the second-half comeback. Sullivan finished with six points and 11 rebounds. Capital, which entered the tournament giving up just 34 points per game, held Senior to only six second-half points. Senior hit six 3-pointers in the first half and led 30-18.
"We're a great defensive team, we know that, we just have to keep believing," Capital coach Bill Pilgeram said. "I know that's easy for a coach to say, but I think our girls did a great job believing they had a lot of time left in that game and if they do their jobs it's going to be all right."
Ellie Ostermiller led the Broncs (17-5) with 11 points and Kola Bad Bear added 10 points and 10 rebounds.