HELENA — Powered by the 22-point onslaught of Rollie Worster, the No. 5 ranked Missoula Hellgate boys basketball team pulled away in the second half of Western AA game to beat Capital in the Bears' Den 50-32 on Thursday night.
The win improves the Knights to 8-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference, while the Bruins slip to 3-8, 2-3.
Capital stayed right with Hellgate in the first half, leading 9-7 after the first quarter, and trailing just 20-18 at halftime — when Worster lobbed in a buzzer-beater about 90-feet from free-throw line at the other end of the court.
Then it was pretty much all Hellgate after the intermission behind a 21-8 third period outburst.
"We had a good first half, we actually should've been up. We were in control and I thought we wasted a few opportunities," CHS coach Guy Almquist said. "But then not being able to make shots, which has plagued us all year so far, came back to haunt us again in the second half."
The game was a coaching matchup of a couple of former Carroll College all-Americans, in Almquist and Hellgate's Jeff Hayes. The two played in back-to-back State chippers in 2013-14, with the Knights winning the first one and CHS capturing the rematch.
"You are not going to win many games going 12 of 52 (23 percent) from the floor," Almquist continued. "And just 3 of 22 (14 percent) from 3-point land — with most of those being wide open shots because of their double teaming. I think it's harder on a team not to be able to score, than it is to lose giving up 72 points."
The Bruins sped out to a 5-0 lead to start the game when Matt McGinley took the opening tipoff for a lay-up and Bridger Grovom drained a 3-pointer. Worster tallied Hellgate's first points moments later on a jump shot.
Cade Kidder started the second quarter off for Capital with a trey for the home team's biggest lead of the night, 12-7. But the Knights reeled off an 10-2 run to surge ahead 17-14.
The Bruins fought back to retake the lead 18-17 on a steal and layup by Mark Northey with 2 seconds on the clock. Then on the inbounds, Worster fired a Hail Mary from Capital's charity stripe at the buzzer, which unbelievably went in and stunned the home team crowd.
In the third stanza, the Bruins were unable to score for the first 5:58 of the period.
Following Worster in Hellgate's scoring column was Kade Lunday with 10 points. The Knights shot 44 percent (20 of 45) from the floor.
Capital was led by Kidder, Michael Nettleton and Northey, at six points apiece.
Rebounding was even, 35-34 in favor of Hellgate. Worster and Nettleton both had seven boards apiece. McGinley and Kidder had two steals apiece for CHS.
"I felt Hellgate's pressure defense and length was a big difference in the second half," Almquist said. "We had a hard time on transition and couldn't make a shot, and it snowballed from there.
"They (the Knights) have a very good team, because everyone has size. Their defense causes people a lot of problems, and it creates their offense."