Helena girls season comes to an end in Sweet 16

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

MONTGOMERY–The Helena Huskies girls basketball season will come to an end in the 6A Region Semifinal for the second straight season after falling to Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 68-31 in Montgomery on Thursday, Feb. 15.

The Patriots used hot outside shooting and hassled Helena all game with full-court pressure to pull away for the 37-point win.

Helena’s lone lead of the game came after the first possession when Autumn Edmonds hit a 3-pointer in the corner to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead but after that it was all Patriots.

Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa knocked down eight 3-pointers and had three score in double-figures.

A’nya Banks led the Patriots with 17 points, Cierria Cunningham added 14 points and Alton James finished with 11 points.

Helena could never recover after trailing 21-8 at the end of the first quarter as the lone bright spot for Helena was Edmonds who scored nine points to lead the Huskies.

“We played Hillcrest who is a really good team,” Helena head coach Alan Skinner said. “We knew that we were going to need to play close to perfect and we didn’t. I don’t expect perfection ever but I told them at the beginning of the game whatever your 100 percent looks like I want it and I feel like we got it. We have nothing to hang our heads about. We have seniors in our locker room that have had big roles in putting back-to-back area championship plaques in the trophy case and they were pivotal in getting us here the last two years.”

Hillcrest forced 37 turnovers and Helena finished with just six assists in the game as the Patriots will advance to the Elite Eight.

Despite falling in the Sweet 16, Helena managed to win the area championship with a host of new players that included six freshmen and four juniors after losing seven seniors from last season.

“What I told them in the locker room is be sad and if you’re not sad then it doesn’t mean something to you,” Skinner said. “We had a tearful locker room and that’s always tough to be in at the end of the year but we spent the first month of the season knowing it would be tough early and really wondering when it was going to come together. So, I told them as sad as they’re now, they have a lot more to be proud of that’s part of a much longer process that got us here in the first place.”

Photos available at www.shelbycountyphotos.com