HELENA — In the Class AA girls basketball regular season finale on Saturday afternoon, Capital High defeated Missoula Hellgate handily in the CHS gym, 48-27.
On Senior night, Capital's Taylor Sullivan and Kacie Gross combined for 27 points, while helping the Western Conference's No. 3 seeded Bruins improve to 15-3 overall, and 9-3 in conference play. No. 7 seed Hellgate slips to 3-15, 1-11.
The Bruins used a senior lineup of Madi McMahon, Ayanna Syvrud, Katie Culver, Sullivan and Gross to start the first four minutes of the opening quarter and then again after halftime.
This combination outscored Hellgate 11-2 to start the game, and 7-4 to open the second half.
"It was a great night for the seniors, the way they started the first and third quarters is a testament to what they mean to our success," CHS coach Bill Pilgeram said. "This is a very tight group, and the seniors' leadership and chemistry showed tonight."
After the Knights scored the first points of the night on a bucket by Peyton Arledge, the Bruins ripped off a 17-2 run, powered by Sullivan's eight points. Hellgate's Shay Evans drained a 3-pointer before the buzzer, and Capital led 17-7 after the first period.
Helgate outscored the hosts 8-4 in the second quarter, sparked by a long shot by Severine Armstrong from 3-point land, closing the gap to 21-15 at halftime.
But then the Bruins retook control after the intermission, posting a 27-12 margin the remainder of the contest to win going away.
A few of Capital's highlights included a nice lay-in by freshman forward Dani Bartsch on a pass from Sullivan, and a couple of treys by Emily Kidder and Syvrud.
Rounding out the Bruins top scorers were Bartsch and Kidder at eight and six points. Bartsch and Syvrud were high under the glass with six rebounds apiece, while Sullivan and Sydney Sheridan pirated three steals each.
"I felt we had a very balanced effort on both ends of the court," Pilgeram said. "Kacie had a fine all-around game — shooting, rebounding and defense — Katie played great defense, and Taylor had a solid offensive effort, especially from the free throw line (5-for-7)."
Missoula was paced by Kylie Lunday with 10 points, and six counters by Evans.
"Our goal at the beginning of the year was to get better every game, and we are getting better, but we still have a ways to go," Hellgate coach Rob Henthorn said. "Now we've got three days to get ready for divisionals.
"We've got good athletes, good coaching, and we work hard. We just need to find a way to get the ball in the hoop."