Helena ‘guts out’ sub-regional win to advance to Sweet 16

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–For the second straight year, the Helena Huskies girls basketball team will head to Montgomery to compete in the Sweet 16 after a convincing 51-43 win over Benjamin Russell on Monday, Feb.12.

The Huskies had home court advantage in the sub-regional round after defeating Pelham to win the area championship last Friday and they didn’t waste the opportunity.

Led behind seniors Jordan Jones and Brandis Lang who finished with 33 of the Huskies 51 points, Helena fought off a late comeback attempt by Benjamin Russell to close out the game. Jones led all scorers with 23 points while Lang also finished in double figures with 10 points. Montana Harris chipped in 12 points to finish in double figures.

Helena jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and it looked as though the Huskies speed would be too much to handle for the Wildcats.

As the game wore on, Benjamin Russell was able to establish more of a presence down low and bothered Helena with traps in the front court to make a second half comeback.

“That kid that they put in the top of that 1-3-1 just watching film we knew she was the bounciest kid we have played against,” Helena head coach Alan Skinner said. “Just energy all over the place and I told them all week that we have to ball fake, get her in the air and pass it around. We just did not do a good job of doing that. We helped them a lot with some lazy passes and I think we kind of settled down after getting that early run and we can’t do that.”

Helena held a 30-23 lead after the first two quarters as Benjamin Russell held the Huskies to just six third quarter points to make it 36-32 heading to the final eight minutes.

With four minutes to go in the game, Benjamin Russell took advantage of several Helena mistakes to take their first lead of the game at 39-38.

As time was running low, Jones did not want her season to come to an end as she responded with an and-one on the other end to put the Huskies back on top 41-39. Ten of Jones points came in the final quarter.

After trading a few baskets, the Huskies would go on to score the final eight points in the last two minutes of the game to pull away to advance to the Class 6A Regional Semifinals.

“They just gutted that one out,” Skinner said. “My girls just gutted it out. Benjamin Russell came here to play and we knew that they were athletic and play some tough teams. It’s two years in a row going to a regional and for my seniors that’s huge. We’re excited about it.”

The Huskies will now travel to Montgomery on Thursday, Feb. 15, to face Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. The time for the game is to be determined.

To view photos, visit Shelbycountyphotos.com.