Third Time’s The Charm: Hellgate Boys Return to State after 3 Year Drought


Hellgate boys and parents celebrate their 57-33 win over Kalispell Glacier on Sarturday night at Flathead High School.

Brennan Labbe, Reporter

KALISPELL- Connor Dick slammed his way to leading the Missoula Hellgate Knights to a State berth for the first time in his career, and the AA Western Divisional championship, which the Knights eventually won.

The imposing senior continued his unbelievable 2022-23 campaign with a 21-point performance, alongside a pair of one handed dunks. Easton Sant added 16, Chance McNulty 5, and Asher Topp matching Calijah LaRance with 3 apiece.

“It was a pretty awesome feeling,” said Dick. “Coach did get on us for calming down and re-focusing, because the game was far from over.” 

The Knights of Hellgate rolled past Helena Capital 55-40 late Friday night, at Kalispell Flathead. But there is much more to the story than just one win.

This marks the Hellgate Boys’ first State appearance in 3 years, something that the graduates in this senior-seasoned team have yet to experience.

“It feels really good,” said Dick on making State. “A lot of the seniors were emotional, it means so much to us to finally make it.”  

Joey Michelotti added 9 for Helena and Henry Gross dropped 7, with Hudson Grovom tallying 6 for the muffled, yet balanced, Capital attack. 

The Knights came out firing in the highly anticipated Semifinal Western AA match. Behind Connor Dick’s 8 points, with one of his 2 slams on the night, Hellgate erupted for a 9-0 run to force a Capital timeout in the first eight minutes. With an Asher Topp triple and a Chance Mcnulty jumper in the mix, after one, Hellgate led 13-5.

Despite the talent that this high- octane Senior studded team has to offer, quarter number two showed why Hellgate is not just a threat this year, but in the coming ones too. Junior LaRance knocked down a triple to open up the quarter, followed by not one, but two Sant threes that sparked a 9-0 Hellgate run into the half. Dick added his sparkling, second slam of the night on top of the younger guys’ highlights.

“I think we are in a really good position,” said Sant. “We have been playing really good basketball lately, and we stepped it up as a team in divisionals, which was fun to be a part of.” 

Helena Capital came out of the half and quieted the Hellgate bench fast, knocking down two fast three pointers. Hellgate still had a strong hold on their lead at 37-19 halfway through, thanks to Dick and Sant sparking 11 Knights points. After three, Hellgate led 39-26.

The 4th quarter was a blur of offense that saw Sant throw down 10 points, accompanied by an additional 3 points from Dick, and Leo Filardy getting some action on the scoreboard as well as Mario Rosemond adding a free throw. Hellgate ran away with the game on an 8-1 run to close out a massive win that gave the Seniors some much needed relief.

“I expect for us to play good basketball and step it up even more in Butte,” said Sant. “We’ve been waiting for this all year, and I feel very confident with our team heading into next week.” 

The loss dropped Capital to the losers bracket in a must win game, as they lost against Big Sky. As for the Knights, they advanced to, and won the Divisional championship against Kalispell Glacier, they will head into the State tournament as the number one seed in the West. The first game for the Knights in Butte is set for 3/9/2023 against Bozeman Gallatin at 5 PM.