By Joshua Huff, sports editor
HELENA — A first half to forget doomed the Clay-Chalkville boys’ basketball team on Thursday as the Cougars watched their four-game winning streak end at the hands of a Helena team that has now won three straight.
The Cougars did not score a basket until just under the two-minute mark of the first quarter in what ultimately became a 55-39 loss. Helena has now defeated Clay-Chalkville twice this season. The Huskies’ first victory was a 66-49 win on Nov. 21.
Behind a combination of stout defense and poor shooting from Clay-Chalkville, Helena jumped out to a 5-1 lead that the Huskies extended to 8-1 with 2:35 remaining in the first quarter. The Cougars did not record a bucket until Isiah Daniel hit a 3-pointer with 1:50 left in the quarter; however, that shot did little to stem the flow of the Huskies’ onslaught. Helena proceeded to take a 12-5 lead into the second quarter.
Clay-Chalkville would only hit one shot in that first quarter. The other two points came off of free throws.
Daniel would hit another 3-pointer with 6:50 left in the first half, but Helena had stretched its lead to nine points nearly midway through the second. The deficit for the Cougars only grew as the quarter went on. Daniel’s ill-fated 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining in the first half rimmed out, which was a fitting way for the first half to end for a Cougars team that seemed stuck in molasses.
After a halftime that one can only assume was less than desirable for the Clay-Chalkville players, the Cougars jumped out of the second half as if hellfire had been lit under them. Clay-Chalkville recorded a 9-0 run throughout the first three minutes of the third quarter. With the deficit now cut to three points, 29-26, Helena mustered all it had to slow the momentum of the Cougars. Twice, Clay-Chalkville narrowed Helena’s lead to three points, but the Huskies managed to gather themselves and hold on to a 37-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
From there, Clay-Chalkville fell apart.
Helena opened the final quarter with a Caden Pierce 3-pointer and would proceed to stretch its lead to 11 points before pulling away for the easy win.
The Cougars were led Daniel’s 13 points. The junior knocked down three 3-pointers on the night. Jaden Johnson added seven points and Daniel Beachem recorded five points.