Helena cruises past Calera to advance to area championship

Published 11:58 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Helena’s Jon Brown (23) scores two of his 16 points in the first quarter of the opening area tournament game against the Calera Eagles on Feb. 9. (Reporter Photo/Graham Brooks)

Helena’s Jon Brown (23) scores two of his 16 points in the opening area tournament game against the Calera Eagles on Feb. 9. (Reporter Photo/Graham Brooks)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–The Helena Huskies boys basketball team swept through the Class 5A Area 7 region undefeated during the regular season and the first round of the area tournament was no different, as the Huskies handled business beating the Calera Eagles by a score of 67-37.

The Huskies were hot from the start, jumping out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back.

Helena head coach Chris Laatsch knew a good start would be critical in the win-or-go-home scenario.

“Well it’s really hard to beat someone four times and Coach Drake has done a really good job and they’re playing better and better,” said Laatsch. “We knew they would be much improved and a tough out so starting off well was real important to us. Hopefully creating some doubt in their mind as to whether or not they could beat us, and really establishing in our mind that we’re going to get it done for a fourth time so the start was really critical and we talked a lot about it.”

Helena held Calera to just four points in the first quarter and the Huskies took a 16-4 lead led by Jon Brown’s nine first quarter points.

Helena did the majority of their damage offensively in the second quarter and a big part of that was due to the hot outside shooting of Justin Stuckey.

Stuckey connected on four straight three-pointers and accounted for 12 of the Huskies 23 second quarter points as Helena took a 39-14 lead at halftime.

In a game that saw 11 different players score a basket for the Huskies, the home crowd was rocking all night and Laatsch credited the many weapons his team has.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that can score and a lot of guys that can play well, that’s what championship caliber teams do,” said Laatsch. “They have multiple guys that can make plays and they have guys who can step up when their numbers called and I think we saw that tonight. We needed that boost in the arm and Stuckey provided it when we were trying to get on that run. Phildon and Trevor played great filling in for Colton so it’s kind of a next man up mentality.”

The Helena crowd and student section began to make a lot of noise when Laatsch provided the opportunity for numerous bench players to come in and make plays in the fourth quarter.

Daniel Lawson, Andrew Bush and Dean Benton all scored a basket in the fourth quarter for the Huskies and the Helena starters, coaches and student section all went wild.

“Those guys that got to play at the end and score and do some things… they bust their tails every day in practice and they don’t get to play a lot,” said Laatsch. “On a lot of teams that I’ve coached they would’ve played a lot but we have a really talented team but they still work hard every day. They cheer for those guys that are on the floor and so that’s what’s special about this team.”

The Huskies will take on the Central Falcons in the Class 5A Area 7 Championship game on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. at Helena High School.