Helena Capital Downs Flathead

Brayden Koch's 'virtuoso' performance leads the Bruins past the Braves 67-41 on Thursday

By 406mtsports.com
Joston Cripe of the Flathead Braves charges to the basket against the Glacier Wolfpack at Glacier High School in Kalispell on Jan. 22, 2021. The Braves beat the Wolfpack 62-48, before the Wolfpack avenged that loss with a 52-42 win on Feb. 23. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

HELENA — In less than 20 minutes on the floor Thursday night, Helena Capital’s Brayden Koch scored 30 points and was 6-for-6 from 3-point range.

Imagine what he would have done if he hadn’t sprained his ankle in the first quarter?

The injury, which happened in the first minute of the game, held Koch out for most of the opening stanza, but once he returned in the second, it was lights out for Flathead as he made 12 of 14 shots, dished out three assists and was credited with five steals in a 67-41 win for the Bruins inside the Bears Den.

“It was a virtuoso performance,” Capital head coach Guy Almquist told the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. “I don’t know what else to say about it. That was crazy.”

With Koch sidelined, the Bruins hung tough with Flathead (3-3) and a 3-pointer by Malachi Syvrud helped CHS keep within striking distance at 12-11 after one.

Then, about a minute into the second quarter, Koch re-entered the game and in the seven minutes before half, he made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points as Capital surged to a 31-20 halftime lead.

“I just tried to come out and not think about it,” Koch said. “I was just having fun playing with my buddies. When we play well together, it’s a lot fun.”

The final product is fun to watch too, especially as Koch routinely hits NBA-level treys, but it takes a lot of work along the way.

“For anyone watching that, he didn’t make those jumpers tonight,” Almquist said of Koch. “He made those in the summer on his own. That’s where that comes from. His passion for basketball and his work ethic is why he’s able to do what he’s doing.”

Leading by double figures, Capital and Koch continued to amp up the pressure in the third quarter, forcing a number of turnovers, which led to easy buckets.

Koch left five minutes into the third, meaning he had scored 22 points in 12 minutes. Then, for good measure, he drilled a trey with the clock winding down in the third, giving the Bruins a 50-32 lead with eight minutes left.

In the fourth, Koch hit another 3-ball, which was his sixth of the night. He finished 6-for-6 and if you include his 4-for-4 showing from deep against Helena High last week, the junior has made 10 straight 3-point shots.

“That confidence is something you learn in practice,” Koch said. “And when I get going, I just don’t stop. My teammates trust me, so when I get those shots, I take them.”

Koch might have stolen the show, but he got plenty of help in the 26-point win over the Braves as CHS held Flathead to 33 percent shooting and just 0.7 points per possession. The Bruins also forced 21 turnovers and converted them into 24 points.

On the other end of the floor, Capital scored an impressive 1.17 points per possession, while shooting 50 percent from the field. Syvrud joined Koch in double figures with 11; Tyler Tenney also added nine.

“Obviously, Brayden had a great performance,” Almquist said. “But our team around him did a great job of competing and feeding him and it was fun to watch.”

Capital (4-2) will be back in action Saturday at Glacier. Tip-off time is set for 4 p.m. The Braves, who got 17 from Gabe Adams and 11 from Joston Cripe, will host Helena High on Saturday.

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