Missoula Hellgate’s run to the championship game gave the Knights a unique set of circumstances as the State AA boys’ basketball bracket played out. The Knights would only face teams they’d lost to during the regular season.
Hellgate lost four games during the regular season starting with – in chronological order – Billings Skyview, Billings West and Helena Capital (twice).
In order to win a second straight state title, the Knights needed to beat – again, in order – Skyview, West and Capital.
Had Wednesday night’s clash of state Nos. 1 and 2 been played as originally scheduled, Olivia Roberts likely would have gotten to enjoy senior night with her fellow Spartans.
Initially slated for last Thursday before a slew of blizzards and school closures, the rematch of last year’s State AA finals that yielded Sentinel its second straight championship was pushed back a week before the Spartans could pull off the coup of Capital.
Roberts, though, watched from the bench and missed her second straight game because of illness.
UPDATED: A blizzard warning forced the postponement of the Sentinel-Capital basketball games Thursday. The action will be made up on Monday, Mar. 3, with Sentinel’s girls still hosting Capital at 7 p.m. and the boys on the road in Helena also at 7 p.m.
Almost four weeks ago, Helena Capital knocked Missoula Sentinel off the path of the unbeatens by upsetting the No. 1 ranked Spartans 55-50 in Helena.
Neither team has lost since as last year’s State AA finalists have been hurtling toward another rematch this week. The now top-ranked Bruins come to Missoula to face the second-ranked Spartans for a 7 p.m. tip-off Thursday, a meeting of two 17-1 clubs with high state aspirations.