Setting the standard: Helena gets huge win on senior night

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–The four seniors on the Helena Huskies boys basketball team have done so much for the program the past four years, and on Tuesday, Jan. 23, they were honored on senior night at Helena High School to suit up for the last regular season home game.

Year four has been the most successful season yet for the seniors, as the Huskies have compiled 23 wins and just two losses thus far.

Helena head coach Chris Laatsch said the four seniors that have been at the high school since it first opened in 2014 are responsible for setting the culture for the program.

“We’re big believers in our seniors setting the culture and atmosphere for our whole program and these four guys have bought into that and have worked really hard,” Laatsch said. “They’ve done a great job of being leaders. They’ve all improved as players over four years and they’ve all improved this year and they’ve all grown as men but the leadership they bring on the floor, in the locker room, off the floor and in the classroom has just been remarkable and they’re unbelievable.”

On senior night, the Hueytown Golden Gophers came to town as Helena attempted to notch win No. 24 on the season, and did just that with a 71-57 win.

Led behind senior Justin Stuckey’s 22 points, the Huskies put together a collective effort to defeat Hueytown by double-digits. The last time the two teams met this season, Helena escaped with a 56-53 overtime win on the road.

Leading 28-25 at halftime, Helena had to make some changes early in the third quarter when senior post player Deven Tucker picked up his third foul.

The Huskies were up to the challenge playing with a smaller line-up and multiple players contributed by scoring all their points in the second half.

Helena’s Austin Laatsch came off the bench and scored all 15 of his points after halftime to finish as the second leading scorer. Laatsch and Stuckey both knocked down three 3-pointers a piece in the game.

Senior point guard Dionte Tolbert had a quiet first half, but also finished in double-figures with 10 points in the second half.

Daunte Cave was the fourth Husky to finish in double-figures with 12 points as Helena outscored Hueytown 43-32 in the second half to claim the victory.

As a team, Helena shot nearly 70 percent from the free throw line by converting 20 of 29 attempts to help ice the game.

Laatsch said the key to winning this season has been the ability of different players to step up each night.

“I thought tonight getting that win was really big,” Laatsch said. “I think the ability to have a double-digit win just is a credit to all of the guys stepping up and that’s what’s been so good about this team is it’s been different people every night. Some nights, it’s seniors and some nights it’s younger guys that are stepping in. What’s made this team so much fun and special and probably why we’ve gotten to 24 wins is because it’s not the same guys every night.”

Next up for Helena will be a huge area game on the road to decide the regular season area champion. Helena will travel to Chelsea on Friday, Jan. 26, and with a win will finish as area champions. With a loss, a coin toss will be the deciding tiebreaker to determine area tournament seeding.