For three quarters Friday Helix's sure-shooting sophomore Kylee Rogers struggled to find her shot from behind the arc, going 0 for 5.
That all changed in the fourth when Rogers nailed 3-of-3 from downtown as the Grizzlies avenged a loss to the Condon-Wheeler Knights in last season's district tournament with a 45-29 conference victory in Helix. Rogers led all scorers with 19 points.
"I was rushing my shots," Rogers said of her early struggles. "I know they know how I play so I was like, 'I've got to throw it up really fast.' Fourth quarter they kind of backed off so I just took my time."
"We want to shoot the ball a lot and the kids all have the green light to shoot the ball," Helix coach Randy McKone said. "We want to shoot the ball 60 times a night if we can. When (Rogers) gets hot, she gets hot."
The Grizzlies (3-4, 2-0 Big Sky East) held Knights' all-state performer Megan Greenfield to nine points, although Greenfield did come through with 12 rebounds to lead her team in both categories.
"We knew they were probably going to double down on Megan and we needed our outside people to shoot. We go shots, we just didn't hit them," Knights coach Jenny DeLuca said. "I don't think Megan played really good tonight."
"(The Grizzlies) didn't break our backs, we broke our backs by not running our plays and not slowing it down when we needed to," Greenfield said.
Helix sophomore Britney Smith had a solid all-around performance with 10 points, five assists and seven rebounds, doing most of her damage in the low post.
"Actually I like it better," Smith said of playing down low as opposed to the perimeter. "It's more physical and I just enjoy it more."
Addie Terjeson, Megan Schroeder (10 points) and Crystal McMurray also grabbed seven boards apiece.
The Grizzlies took an early first-quarter lead thanks to their press but back-to-back three-pointers from Greenfield and Kylie Hankins gave the Knights (7-2, 0-1 BSC) a 12-10 lead going into the second. The Grizzlies fought back to tie it at 15 headed to the half.
McKone could be seen on the sidelines during the second quarter flexing his biceps and urging his girls to stay tough saying, "These are the toughest guys you're going to see."
"We've spent the last two weeks really working with these young kids trying to get a little more physical around the basket," McKone said. "They really responded tonight, they really buckled down and they handled the pressure down the stretch, which is good for them because they haven't until now."
The teams traded buckets out of the break but the Knights clamped down on defense and allowed only one Helix shot in the last three minutes to take a 24-21 lead into the fourth quarter.
"It seemed like we wanted to do too much so then we didn't play together," Rogers said of the third quarter. "We just went our separate ways and didn't play as a team."
But the Grizzlies opened the fourth with a Chyanne Hack lay-in, taking the feed from Schroeder under the hoop for an easy two, and a deep three from Rogers to regain the lead 26-24.
The Knights quickly regained the lead on a Hankins free throw and a Greenfield put back. Up by one, the Knights had the chance to extend their lead with less than four minutes to play when junior Elise Heidy (seven points, nine rebounds) went to the line. But when both of her free throws missed their mark, Rogers made the Knights pay for it with her second three.
Lay-ins from Terjeson and Schroeder, plus another Rogers three gave the Grizzlies their largest lead of the night at 36-27 with 1:34 left to play when a rash of fouls put any hopes of a Knights comeback to bed.
After a questionable intentional foul on an inbounds pass, both DeLuca and Knights assistant coach Jon Hankins were slapped with technicals for arguing the call.
That sent Schroeder to the line, where she made five of six to ice the win.
"We didn't do the fundamental things really well," DeLuca said of the Knights' fourth. "We let (the Grizzlies) get second chances, we left their shooters open when we hadn't been and we just couldn't buy a bucket."
The win was a huge one for the young Grizzlies, who started three sophomores and two freshman.
"I felt bad that we lost to (Condon-Wheeler) at districts so I felt we had to get even," Rogers said.
"We knew from the get-go that this would be the game to win," Smith said. "We're a better first-half (team) but we have been working on the third and fourth quarter just pulling ourselves together."
The game also served as a wake-up call for the Knights, and will surely motivate them as the season progresses.
"We expected (the Grizzlies) to come out big but not, I don't know, we beat them last year at districts so I knew they were gunning for us," Greenfield said.
"We just let it go in the fourth quarter. ... It's a long way from being over. This was one game."
C-W (7-2, 0-1 BSC) 12 3 9 5 - 29
HELIX (3-4, 2-0 BSC) 10 5 6 24 - 45
CONDON-WHEELER - Megan Greenfield 9, Elise Heidy 7, Katie Wagenaar 4, Kylie Hankins 4, Brook Griffith 3, Kelli Kayser 2.
HELIX - Kylee Rogers 19, Britney Smith 10, Megan Schroeder 10, Chyanne Hack 4, Addie Terjeson 2, Claire Ely, Crystal McMurray.
3-point field goals - Condon-Wheeler 2, Helix 4. Free throws - Condon-Wheeler 6-16, Helix 7-16. Fouls - Condon-Wheeler 17, Helix 15. Technicals - Rogers (Helix), Coach DeLuca, Coach Hankins (Condon-Wheeler).
CONDON WHEELER 72, HELIX 27 - In Helix, a 16-0 Knights' (5-4, 1-0 Big Sky Conference) run to start the game Friday assured the Grizzlies' (0-7, 0-2 BSC) boys would have to look elswhere for their first win of the season.
Knights senior Ryan Standiford led all scorers with 21 points with the next highest total coming from teammate Tyler Urbach with 13.
Helix was led by senior Garrett Swaggart with 12 points and eight rebounds.
"We're looking for little victories right now," Helix coach DeWayne Dunlap said. "At times we play pretty decent basketball but we're going to have to get a lot more energy on the floor. We're playing bigger, faster, stronger teams right now but we can play better and the kids know that."
"Obviously (the Grizzlies) are pretty young, working on some things," Knights coach Joe Colby said. "We just come out and try to do what we do no matter who our opponent is."
C-W (5-4, 1-0 BSC) 23 15 16 18 - 72,br>HELIX (0-7, 0-2 BSC) 4 6 7 10 - 27
CONDON-WHEELER - Ryan Standiford 21, Tyler Urbach 13, Ben Logan 10, Cole MacInnes 8, Drew Messenger 6, Justin Wagenaar 5, Russell Long-Thompson 4, Brandon Anderson 4, Stefan Conlee 1.
HELIX - Garrett Swaggart 12, Chance Raymond 6, Logan Swaggart 3, Garrett Rogers 3, Orrin Dorgan 2, Justin Zimmerman 1, Levi Rhode, Tylor Bushman.
Fouls - Condon-Wheeler 12, Helix 12.