It hasn't been an easy start for the defending state champion Hellgate Knights. After starting 0-2 falling to Billings Skyview and West the Knights are 3-3 but they're not letting a slow start get to them.
"We started off against Billings and obviously we didn't play like we wanted to, we didn't execute we lacked some toughness mentally, but those games came down to the wire and they got the better of us," said Senior Post Pat Colberg.
"Yea we know we are definitely not where we want to be right now and we are a better team than our record says and we know what we were missing it in that game and we have been emphasizing it in practice," said Junior Tres Tinkle.
The Knights are almost two deep at every position and while that sounds fine and dandy, it's actually been a challenge for Coach Hayes trying to figure out lineups and divvying up minutes.
"It's been a challenge, we have a lot of really neat kids that have worked hard and earned some time but we have been talking and preaching team a lot recently. At some point to get to where we want to as a team we are going to have to let some guys sacrifice a little bit and it's not easy to do but they are mature and handling it well," said Hellgate Head Coach Jeff Hayes.
The Knights knew as defending champs they were going to be the hunted, and that certainly has been the case.
"After the game we saw the fans storming the court, when we would meet in the locker rooms we could hear the other teams talking trash. So that just gives us more fire to work harder and we know now that everyone is coming after us and after the other teams actions we don't like it and we want that taste out of our mouths," said Tinkle.
Coach Hayes says the team is mentally tougher after the slow start and now just needs to get tougher defensively.
"Once we get going and get into a rhythm we are a very tough team offensively and we are still working on the defensive aspect keeping that mindset and that focus throughout.
The Knights next play Stevensville in a battle of state champs on Friday.