State AA Basketball Glacier girls slow Pickens, but Helena too much to handle

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BILLINGS — Jamie Pickens has been a problem for most every team that has crossed her path this season.

The 6-foot-2 Helena junior, a Griz basketball commit, terrorized Class AA all year with her size, strength, ball-handling skills and ability to score from anywhere on the floor. She ranked second in the state in scoring (15.4 points per game) and first, by a long shot, in rebounding (12.6 boards per game).

Pickens was, by default, the focus of Glacier’s defensive game plan entering the Class AA state semifinals on Friday evening.

For a half, Glacier’s plan worked to perfection.

But Pickens broke loose to hit several big shots in the second half, and her teammates pitched in crucial contributions to lift Helena to a 63-52 victory and second straight appearance in the state title game at Rimrock Auto Arena.

“She’s going to get what Pickens gets, but we wanted to make her work hard and make her work for everything,” Glacier head coach Bill Sullivan said. “You’ve just got to try to contain her.

“They have shooters all over the place. Tonight, they were big from behind the arc. We didn’t defend that very well, and they made us pay for it.”

The 3-point shot was indeed lethal for Helena, especially in the second half.

The Bengals knocked down 41.2 percent of their 3s in the game and 4 of 6 long balls after halftime.

All three 3-pointers the victors hit in the first half came in a two-minute span and were part of an 11-0 second-quarter run that helped Helena separate after finishing the first period deadlocked with Glacier at 10.

The run, which featured makes from beyond the arc courtesy of Paige Aasved, Kamden Hilborn and Abby Marcille, staked Helena to a 29-18 halftime lead despite the Wolfpack holding Pickens to two points in the first half.

Even when she wasn’t scoring, though, Pickens, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, helped create lanes and open shots for her teammates.

“We just helped a lot (on Pickens), and then we couldn’t recover to the 3-point shooters,” Sullivan said.

“They certainly hit their 3s. They haven’t hit them like that against us for a while. Tonight, they got them.”

Led by Kali Gulick’s game-high 20 points and an additional 17 from Anna Schrade, Glacier threatened Helena’s comfortable margin several times in the second half.

The Wolfpack cut its deficit to seven on six different occasions and pulled within five once on a Raley Shirey bucket with just more than three minutes remaining.

But each time Glacier closed, Helena answered.

The Bengals responded to Shirey’s basket with a 6-1 run, and the game was never closer than seven again.

“They’re a great team, and they make you pay,” Sullivan said.

“When you try to make the runs that we made on them the amount of times we tried to make them, it wears on you.”

Eliminated from state title contention, the Wolfpack will compete for third place today.

Glacier takes on Bozeman, which defeated Billings Senior in Friday’s loser-out play, at 9 a.m. today for a chance to play for third. The victor will face the winner of Helena Capital-Billings West at 3:30 p.m. in the consolation finals.

“Our ultimate goal was certainly to play in the state championship,” Sullivan said.

“There’s still hardware to be taken care of. We want to be in that consolation game and see if we can’t bring home a trophy.”

Semifinals

Helena 10 19 12 22 — 63

Glacier 10 8 13 21 — 52

HELENA HIGH — Paige Aasved 1 0-1 3, Payton Aasved 1 0-0 3, Vanessa Walsh 0 6-6 6, McKayla Kloker 2 4-4 9, Kamden Hilborn 1 8-12 11, Emily Feller 4 1-2 9, Abby Marcille 2 2-2 7, Jamie Pickens 4 5-6 15.

GLACIER — Ellie Stevens 2 2-5 6, Kali Gulick 8 0-1 20, Cadie Williams 1 0-0 2, Aubrie Rademacher 0 1-4 1, Anna Schrade 5 5-8 17, Alivia Atlee 0 2-4 2, Raley Shirey 1 2-2 4.

Helena Capital 7 8 7 7 — 29

Missoula Sentinel 8 4 12 9 — 33

HELENA CAPITAL — Kacie Gross 10, Taylor Sullivan 16, Sydney Sheridan 3.

MISSOULA SENTINEL — Shelby Schweyen 11, Grace Stayner 2, Kylie Frohlich 7, Jordyn Schweyen 4, Kayla Daily 4, Lexi Deden 5.

Loser–Out Games

Bozeman 20 17 12 14 — 63

Billings Senior 8 12 11 22 — 53

BOZEMAN —Ayla Embry 18, Sophia Robinson 2, Ashlyn Lewis 5, Angelle Diamond 10, Hannah Wheeler 14, Alex Carey 12, Ava Westphal 2.

Billings Senior — Tavy Findon 7, Mariah Linse 12, Kola Bad Bear 21, Bailey Eleazer 2, Courtney Bad Bear 3, Ellie Ostermiller 8.

Billings West 7 15 17 20 — 59

Great Falls CMR 13 8 11 9 — 41

BILLINGS WEST — TyLee Manuel 15, TyRaa Manuel 7, Ambreya Windy Boy 12, Aliyah Holton 5, Willa Albrecht 8, Shayla Montague 10, Maddie Albrecht 2.

GREAT FALLS CMR — Kylie Allen 2, Emily Funseth 2, Allie Olsen 5, Kayci Edwards 2, Addison Gardner 13, Kyra Willis 13, Brynn Klinefelter 2, Breanna Johns 2.

Today’s Schedule

Loser-Out Games

9 a.m. — Bozeman vs. Glacier (At MetraPark)

9 a.m. — Helena Capita vs. Billings West (at Skyview)

Third/Fourth Place

3:30 p.m. — Loser-Out Game winners

Championship Game

6:30 p.m. — Missoula Sentinel vs. Helena High

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