Chelsea defeats Helena, moves to 3-0 in area play
Published 10:35 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
CHELSEA – As far as gaining solid early positioning in the Class 6A Area 8 standings go, the game between the Helena Huskies and Chelsea Hornets on Tuesday, Jan. 15 had big implications as each team came into the matchup sitting at 2-0 in area play, and in the end, the Hornets came away with a solid 55-44 win to remain undefeated in the competitive four-team area.
Led by Jake Tierney’s 20 points and Daniel Washington’s 16 points, the Hornets’ key to the double-digit victory could be found from beyond the arc and inside the paint.
Against the Huskies, Tierney knocked down four 3-pointers, while the entirety of Washington’s points came from inside the arc or at the foul line, as Chelsea slowly increased its lead over the course of four quarters to put the game out of reach.
Following a tight first quarter that saw Chelsea hold a slim 12-9 lead, the Hornets found success by using Washington’s size to its advantage as he scored the final eight points for Chelsea in the second period to extend the Hornets lead to 25-18 at halftime.
“Always with Daniel, there’s not a whole lot of bodies that are as big as him and we constantly are stressing to our kids that he’s got to touch the basketball,” Chelsea head coach Nick Baumbaugh said. “He doesn’t touch the basketball enough but we don’t want to force it either, so we talk to our kids to make sure we look. We made a slight adjustment that I thought worked to get him the basketball there in that second quarter.”
On the flip side, Helena is capable of going on big runs offensively as was evident in the Huskies’ first two area wins over Calera and Pelham.
Although Helena’s outstanding guard duo of Caden Pierce and Daunte Cave both finished in double-figures scoring against Chelsea, as a team the Huskies were unable to go on a solid run, coupled with stops defensively, to make up the deficit against the Hornets.
Baumbaugh credited the defensive play of Robert Marquet for keeping Cave in check for the majority of the game.
“A lot of that goes to Marquet for getting up and guarding Daunte the way he’s doing and I told Robert, especially the last five or six games, he’s really picked up his defense and it’s not a stat,” Baumbaugh said. “There’s not a stat for what he’s doing in causing problems for the other team’s point guard so that slows everyone else down. What we saw on film was most teams wouldn’t guard Daunte in the full, so he’s able to get into their offense and we really tried to disrupt that tonight.”
Although the Huskies trailed 38-24 heading into the fourth quarter, they never gave up and started the final period with a 7-0 run to cut the Hornets’ lead to 38-31 with 4:34 to go in the game.
Helena eventually got to within six points of tying the game thanks to a Parker King 3-pointer to make it 45-39 with 1:41 to go, but Chelsea continued to have an answer at the other end of the floor.
The Hornets knocked down several free throws in the final two minutes to eventually ice the game as they converted 17-of-25 foul shots as a team in the 11-point win.
For Chelsea, they have now beaten Helena, Pelham and Calera as the Hornets will meet each team one more time in the regular season before the seeding for the area tournament is finalized. As for now, Chelsea is sitting in the driver’s seat for the coveted chance to host the area tournament.
“I’ve told our guys that when you look at the history of Chelsea basketball, there’s not a whole lot there because we’ve never been 2-0 in the area and now we’re 3-0,” Baumbaugh said. “We haven’t hosted an area tournament since 1986 and that is something we’re thinking about and talking about on a constant basis. But, we’ve also talked about how competitive this area is so it’s going to be competitive across the board, but if we can host that area tournament, that’s what our goal is.”
Helena and Chelsea will meet again on Friday, Jan. 25, at Helena High School.