In girls’ basketball, Helena and Capital made it to the state tournament. But these two programs are on different paths. Helena is stacked with talent, while Capital rebuilds.
As the clock ticks down to another season, the Capital Lady Bruins boast one of the youngest teams in Class AA. Four juniors and one sophomore must live up to the program’s expectations.
“I think anything is possible, especially in our conference,” assistant coach Katie Garcin said. “I definitely think that we have the players that can do well and take us deep into the state tournament.”
All five starters on last year’s fourth-place team graduated. No senior is in the starting lineup to begin this season. The coaches tasked this year’s three seniors with leading an inexperienced team.
“It’s hard for me,” Shelby VanHemelryck said. “I’m not a very vocal person, but as long as that’s what [the coaches] want, I’ll step up and take the challenge and do what the coaches expect.”
Capital’s season tips off Friday at CMR.
The story is different across town. Last year, Helena High went 13-9 and made it to the state tournament. Fourth-year coach Eric Peterson says because the team returns four starters they are ahead offensively from where they were last season. Defensively, they are still working.
“We’re going to try to do things a little differently this year,” Peterson said. “We’re a little bit behind the eight-ball.”
This offseason the team bonded. During summer basketball, the girls learned to defend the Eastern Conference’s half-court offensive style, which is different from the Western side’s fast tempo offenses.
“We definitely value every possession a lot more,” Kamden Hilborn said. “When you’re playing them you never know what’s going to come of the next possession.”
Helena’s first test is Friday at home against Great Falls.