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Great Falls High defeated Helena High 58-32 in nonconference Class AA boys basketball in The Jungle on Thursday night.

The Bison led from wire-to-wire, with the only blemish being a six-all tie early in the first period on Harper Court.

"Once we started moving the ball around, then the shots dropped in," Great Falls coach coach Bob Howard said. "We shot well, toughened the defense up and just took it from there.

Great Falls' Hunter McKinney fired in a 3-pointer shortly before the end of the opening stanza to give the visitors an 11-6 lead after one.

Late in the second period, Blake Thelen canned the first of his four 3-pointers, to put GFH out in front by 10, 19-9. Thelen would go on to score a game-high 18 points.

The Bengals closed to within 19-13 at halftime, and extended their run to 6-0, when Alex Johnson scored after the intermission, making it 19-15.

But then the Great Falls crew outscored the Bengals 21-13 the rest of the period, for a 40-26 cushion after three. The Bison were actually up by 17 until the waning seconds, before Caleb Ferguson fired in a trey to beat the buzzer.

The final frame was pretty much all Great Falls as the Bison outscored the Helena 18-6 over the last eight minutes.

Following Thelen in the scoring column were Kendall Kynett and McKinney, at 12 and nine points.

Johnson paced Helena with eight points, followed by Holden Sampson's six. Connor Murgel had four points.

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"We're struggling to put the ball in the hole, as a team; it's tough to win when you go just 10-for-40," Helena coach Brandon Day said. "But the guys played hard, they always play with a lot of heart.

"So we'll just go back to work, and hope to pick up our offense and get things rolling."

Great Falls 11 8 21 18 — 58 

Helena 6 7 13 6 — 32

GREAT FALLS: Hunter McKinney 9, Kendall Kynett 12, Blake Thelen 18, Kyle Torgerson 2, Cash Abbott 6, Kevin Boes 3, Keagan Bistodeau 2, Daunte Janikula 6. 

HELENA: Tre Tintinger 3, Dawson Tedesco 3, Caleb Ferguson 3, Hayden Ferguson 2, Alex Johnson 8, Holden Sampson 6, Connor Murgel 4, Grady Koenig 3. 

Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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