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Knights ready to defend state title

By Brad Peers, KECI Sports, bpeers@keci.com
Published On: Dec 09 2013 06:11:50 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 09 2013 07:11:04 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Last season the Hellgate Knights won their 5th state basketball championship in school history, and the first since 2005. This Friday the Knights start their quest for a repeat, and needless to say, the team is excited to pick things up where they left off.

"It's always exciting when you get to get out and compete against someone other than yourself," said Hellgate head basketball coach Jeff Hays. "I know our players can say the same thing."

"We can't wait until that first game rolls around," said Hellgate senior Brady Henthorn. "We'll be a little nervous but we'll do what we can we'll put it all out there I know that."

"Knowing that it's already right here, time flies," said Hellgate junior Tres Tinkle. "I know our seniors want to go out with a bang and have another great year and so we're all going to do what we can to help them and help ourselves for our teams success."

After losing just two seniors to graduation there's no question Hellgate will be the team to beat entering this AA season.

"I mean we all know that we have the target on our back and Hays lets us know that every day," said Henthorn. "That's why he tells us we have to work our hardest every day but we have to take it one game at a time and  do what we can we can't get too far ahead of ourselves."

"We have a big target on our back, we're all excited knowing that we won it last year. I mean nobody wants to just quit after that so it just gives us that fire in our stomach to keep working harder," Tinkle added. "We want to get back to the same spot but we can't hang our heads over it thinking that it's just going to be handed to us. "It's just a work in progress every single day to try and get back to the same spot, but it's a whole new season there's other teams that are working to try and beat us. Overall I think it's just comes down to us wanting that target on our back because it just makes us work harder."

"We're blessed right now with a great group of kids that like to work hard, they like to compete, and they don't settle for anything less," said Hays. "They're just a fun group to be around and they just have a dedication and a commitment level that I haven't seen very often."

Hellgate opens its season Friday night on the road at Billings Skyview.