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HELENA — Three years ago, when the Capital High girls basketball team won the 2015 State basketball championship, the Bruins set two Class AA records in the title contest against Bozeman, canning 20 consecutive free throws and going 32-for-37 at the charity stripe.

On Tuesday night in The Jungle during the season's first crosstown game, the Bruins pulled a similar feat, although this time most of their free throw sharp-shooting occurred in overtime.

After the game started nearly an hour late because the JV game went into multiple overtimes, it ended tied at 45-all in regulation.

Then Capital proceeded to swish 16 of 18 from the charity stripe in the overtime for a 63-49 victory over host Helena.

The game featured two undefeated teams and the top-two ranked squads in the state — both a first in the 44-year history of the intra-city series — as No. 2 Capital remains unbeaten at 9-0 and 3-0 in the conference, while No. 1 Helena slips to 8-1, 2-1.

Capital's Sydney Sheridan and Megan Lindbo did not miss from the line in the OT with Sheridan draining 8-for-8 and Lindbo going 4-for-4. Overall, the Bruins sank 26 of 32 free throws for 81-percent.

"Free throws win championships, and especially in a close game like this, and in overtime," Capital coach Bill Pilgeram said.

But before the extra play, fans packed to the rafters in The Jungle witnessed a heck of a back-and-forth basketball game against two evenly matched teams.

The Bruins put four players in double figures, led by Sullivan with 19 points, most of which went right up the middle underneath, although she also made 7 of 9 free throws. Then came Sheridan at 15, and Lindbo and Kacie Gross with 11 points each.

Helena was led by Kamden Hilborn and Jamie Pickens at 17 and 16 points, respectively. MacKayla Kloker added six markers.

Helena took the first period lead 8-7, and then Capital edged in front 22-20 at halftime. After the intermission, the Bengals fell behind by six, 29-23, on Sheridan's basket, but rallied back to get within 31-30 at the end of three. 

In the frenzied final frame after CHS built a 5-point cushion 35-30 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Taylor Sullivan, the Bengals came clawing back. Midway through the quarter they grabbed their first lead since the second stanza on a 3-point bomb by Paige Aasved, 40-39.

In a race to the wire, Hilborn's lay-up put HHS in front 44-41 with 2:31 left. At 38 seconds left, the Bruins Emily Kidder canned a jumper, as the Bruins snuck ahead 45-44. A Hilborn free throw knotted the score at 45s, before Helena retained possession at the :03.6 mark.

Hilborn brought the ball down, and let a shot fly for the game-winner right before the buzzer. The ball bounced off the back of the rim, went straight up in the air about 6-7 feet, and appeared that it might come back down through the twine. But it was not to be, taking a couple bounces and then glanced off to the left.

"My heart dropped to the floor when Kamden took that shot, I thought that was the end of us," Sheridan said.

The Bruins put four players in double figures, led by Sullivan with 19 points, most of which went right up the middle underneath, although she also made 7 of 9 free throws. Then came Sheridan at 15, and Lindbo and Kacie Gross with 11 points each.

Helena was led by Hilborn and Pickens at 17 and 16 points, respectively. MacKayla Kloker added six markers.

"We worked on a play all week to deal with there 1-3-1 zone, and it worked perfectly," Sheridan recounted. "And defensively, we packed in the key and locked it down."

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The Bruins played great defense, but also the Bengals had one of their poorest shooting nights in along time. HHS was just 17 of 78 from the floor for 21-percent.

Capital also held an advantage rebounding. The Bruins grabbed 42 to Helena's 24. Katie Culver led the way for the Bruins with 15 boards, while Pickens posted her ninth double-double in as many games, grabbing 11 rebounds.

"You take 30 more shots than the other team, you expect to win," Helena coach Eric Peterson said. "It was a battle of two very good teams, both coaches knew it would come down to execution, and Capital executed and made the plays.

"But despite the poor shooting — it's very frustrating when your shots aren't going in - and being outrebounded, I'm very proud of hard they continued to battle ... and we gave ourselves a chance to win at the end."

Pilgeram credited his team's play in the third quarter, when "transition points and paint points" were the key.

"I'm proud of the poise we showed. Both teams competed hard, and our depth help make the difference. It was a great high school basketball game," Pilgeram said.

Capital  7 15 9 14 18 - 63

Helena  8 12 10 15 4 - 49

CAPITAL (9-0, 3-0) - Ayanna Syvrud 2, Megan Lindbo 11, Katie Culver 3, Kacie Gross 11, Taylor Sullivan 19, Sydney Sheridan 15, Emily Kidder 2.

HELENA (8-1, 2-1) - Paige Aasved 3, McKayala Kloker 6, Kamden Hilborn 17, Emily Feller 5, Abby Marcille 2, Jamie Pickens 16.

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

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