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Brandon Day

Helena High’s coach Brandon Day reacts to call during Saturday’s AA Divisional game against Glacier. The Bengals led at the half 18-10.

HELENA — The Helena High boys basketball team peaked at the right time.

The sixth-seeded Bengals struggled throughout the season winning close games, but they learned how to win them for the postseason.

Helena won three games in the AA Western Conference divisional tournament, and took third place and advanced to the state tournament.

The Bengals earned the state berth with a Saturday morning two-point victory over rival Capital — the third meeting of the season. 

Then they came back later in the day to defeat Glacier 42-38 in overtime. And that game almost slipped away.

"We talked about this season how what mattered was the divisional tournament," coach Brandon Day said. "We had to keep improving. And we are. We are playing better basketball now."

Helena came out inspired in the game and dominated for more than three quarters. The largest lead was by 12 points.

Glacier, however, came back to to take the lead late the fourth quarter. 

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Helena's Alex Johnson, who had been scoreless in the game, hit a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime.

"What won that game for us was our defense," Day said. "Both teams were tired. Glacier won their early game in overtime against their crosstown rival. It was a matter of who had what left."

Connor Murgel hit a 3-pointer at the end of overtime to take a two-point lead. Dawson Tedsco then grabbed a rebound on Glacier's last attempt. He was fouled and added two free throws.

Murgel led the Bengals with 13 points, followed by Hayden Ferguson with nine points. Caden Harkins and Alex Whitman both had nine points for Glacier. 

"The crosstown games are very emotional," Day said. "To come back off a big win there and come back a few hours later and win this was big."

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