Glacier Notches Second Win of Season

The Glacier Wolfpack took a 49-41 victory over Helena High on the road Thursday, now 2-4 on the season

By Micah Drew
Will Salonen of the Glacier Wolfpack takes a shot against the Flathead Braves at Glacier High School in Kalispell on Jan. 22, 2021. The Braves beat the Wolfpack 62-48. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Glacier boys basketball team picked up win No. 2 of the season on Thursday night, and simultaneously kept Helena High out of the win column with a 49-41 win in the capital city.

“Wins have been kind of tough for us to get,” Glacier head coach Mark Harkins told 406mtsports.com. “I thought we played very well. I was really, really pleased with our defensive effort. I thought especially in the first half our defense was flying around, we were rebounding well.”

In what was largely a back-and-forth affair for much of the first quarter, the Wolfpack held a 14-10 advantage after eight minutes of action. A 9-0 run extended that lead to double digits by the mid-point of the second quarter, resulting in an 11-point edge for Glacier at the break.

Down the stretch is where the Bengals’ struggles shooting the basketball came back to bite them. At times in the third and fourth quarters, Helena High would make a run, only to fall one or two big shots short of getting back in the game.

For the night, Helena High shot just 3-for-18 from 3-point range (16 percent), but 14-for-19 (73 percent) from inside the arc. Senior Sam Norum’s eight points helped the Bengals stay within striking distance late, but as Glacier continued to knock down its free throws, the outcome became clear.

“I’m proud of the boys, they played hard,” Helena High head coach Brandon Day said. “We’re definitely seeing some improvements. Glacier hit some big shots when they needed to. We just need to get a break, hoping for a break here, we didn’t get one tonight.”

Senior Jaxson Olsen paced Glacier with 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting as the Wolfpack finished the night 51 percent from the field. Senior Keifer Spohnhauer joined Olsen in double digits with 11 points, and knocked down two of Glacier’s five 3-pointers on the night.

With a full-court press into a zone working against them much of the night, the Bengals could not get settled offensively. Still, they out-scored their season average of 37 points per game, but notched just six points in the second quarter as Glacier pulled away.

“It kind of helped us dictate tempo,” Harkins said of the press. “We got some turnovers in the first half. They made some great adjustments at halftime, so they didn’t turn the ball over as much, and they actually exploited it a little bit. But it gave us some tempo. We didn’t want to play a walk-it-up type game, we wanted to make sure that we could get up and down.”

Senior Burgin Luker led the Bengals with 12 points, adding two 3-pointers and shooting 5-for-8 overall. Norum and junior Kaden Huot each chipped in eight points, while Huot also pulled down seven of Helena High’s 10 rebounds.

Despite turning the ball over just 12 times against Glacier’s pressure, Helena High could not make shots when it mattered to break through and draw even with the Wolfpack.

“We cut our turnovers in half tonight, so that’s a big step for us,” Day said. “The next thing is, we gotta hit some shots. We were 3-for-18 tonight from the 3-point line. If we can’t stretch the defense out a little bit, it’s going to be tough to score.”

With the win, Glacier snapped a two-game losing streak and moved to 2-4 on the season. The Bengals are still looking for their first win of the campaign and drop to 0-6.

“I think it’s really gotta help our confidence a lot,” Harkins said of the win. “We just haven’t played very well the last couple of games. I thought we took a step. That’s kind of been our theme all week long, one game at a time and this was that one, and now we’re going to look to the next one.”

Glacier is scheduled to be back in action on Saturday at home against Helena Capital. Helena High will also return to the court Saturday against Flathead on the road.

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