Helena boys fall to Vestavia to open Grant era

Published 11:52 pm Thursday, November 15, 2018

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – For the first time in five seasons, the Helena Huskies varsity boys basketball team began the year with a new head coach pacing the sidelines as they opened the season against Vestavia on Thursday, Nov. 15.

First year head coach Billy Grant replaced Chris Laatsch after Laatsch left to become the head coach at Spain Park while Grant came to Helena after most recently coaching at Pell City High School.

Unfortunately for Grant, the debut didn’t result in a win as Helena fell 52-39 to the Vestavia Rebels.

Vestavia challenged Helena inside as Rebels’ big man Paul Michael Hargrove finished with 13 points. The points in the paint were complimented by Vestavia’s Luke Couch who finished as the game’s leading scorer with 22 points to pace the Rebels.

After racing out to a 16-6 first quarter lead, Vestavia looked to be in control but the Huskies responded with a solid second quarter to narrow the gap.

Helena’s Daunte Cave scored 11 of his team high 12 points in the second quarter as he and Caden Pierce combined to score 16 points in the second period alone to narrow the Rebels lead to 28-22 at halftime. Pierce was the second Husky to finish in double-figures with 11 points.

Helena opened the third quarter with two made free throws by Nate Andrews to cut the lead 28-24 but it’s as close as the Huskies would get.

A technical foul on Helena later in the quarter and a couple of made baskets by Couch helped extend Vestavia’s lead back to nine as the Rebels led 37-28 after three periods.

The deficit couldn’t be overcome in the final quarter as Vestavia outscored Helena 15-11 in the final eight minutes to take the 52-39 win.

Despite being on the losing end, Grant took away plenty of positives from his team’s performance to open the season.

“We’ve only got three experienced players and three guys that played last year and a bunch of new guys so we’re trying to work those guys in,” Grant said. “I was pretty pleased but we just didn’t make any shots and they’ve got a lot of size, but we’ve got a lot of things we can improve on. You can tell a difference in us being our first game and they’ve got two under their belt but not to make any excuses because they’ve got a pretty good team. I like my team and we play hard and fought our way back but we’re not in real good basketball shape. We’ve got a long way to go and we’ve just got to keep working at it.”

Next up, Helena will travel to Vestavia on Monday, Nov. 19 to compete in the 40th annual Sneaky Pete’s Rebel Classic.