Huskies win again, move to semis

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HELENA – The Helena Huskies basketball team is establishing themselves as the best team in Shelby County having only lost one game in the last month of play. Helena had won 11 of 12 and four in a row heading into their Wednesday, Jan. 4, matchup with Pleasant Grove in the quarterfinals of the Jefferson-Shelby Hoops Classic.

A day after taking down a great Clay-Chalkville team, the Huskies faced off against Pleasant Grove and thanks to an aggressive defensive performance and Justin Stuckey feeling it from downtown, Helena (17-4) took down the Spartans with ease 51-29.

Early on it was all Stuckey and Colton Hood for the Huskies as they combined for 10 points in the first four minutes of action. Hood got two easy baskets down low, one directly off the opening tip, while Stuckey hit two 3-pointers in that time span to start Helena on a 10-0 run.

The Huskies defense made it known early in this one that they would be a tough egg to crack. Six-and-a-half minutes into the game they had held Pleasant Grove to zero made baskets and points. Finally, the Spartans got on the board and ended the first quarter on a 7-4 run to at least show some life as they trailed 14-7 at the end of one.

The three-ball was a key component to Helena’s success in the game and was falling from everywhere in the second quarter. Dionte Tolbert hit one on the Huskies first possession of the quarter to put them up 17-7. A couple of possessions later, Stuckey hit a three off of a Tolbert drive and dish. After another three from Stuckey on the Huskies next possession, Helena had gone on a 13-4 run and ended the half with a 27-11 lead.

Pleasant Grove came out of the break giving everything they had, especially on the defensive end of the floor, to try and claw their way back into the game. They held the Huskies scoreless for the first six minutes of the third quarter until Jon Brown hit a bucket at the 3:20 mark.

The problem for the Spartans was they couldn’t get anything going offensively as they only put up eight points in the quarter.

After brown made that first basket of the quarter for the Huskies, Tolbert stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it in for two more points. A couple of possessions later, Tolbert stole another inbounds pass and saved it from going out of bounds by throwing a beautiful pass to Stuckey who sliced his way through the lane through contact and dropped a floater that sailed several feet up in the air. After the free throw Helena led 38-19 and had gone on a 10-4 run in the blink of an eye behind three steals from Tolbert.

From the start, Helena’s defense was hounding the Spartans’ offense and that didn’t change in the fourth. The Huskies hands were waving in the air and their feet were moving non-stop from one side of the court to the other as they held Pleasant Grove to just 10 more points in the final frame. Helena put up 13 more with their bench playing a good chunk of the quarter to win by the final of 51-29.

Stuckey led the way scoring 17 for Helena after shooting 4-5 from beyond the arc (in the first half). Brown added nine points, while Tolbert put up an additional eight. In all, seven different Huskies scored in the contest.