GREAT FALLS — When a team doesn’t show up and play its best in the postseason, it is tough to win, and it shows.
A young Havre High boys basketball team had the hopes of sneaking a couple of wins and earning a top spot in the Central A Divisional Tournament, but came up short over the weekend. The Central A Blue Ponies went 0-2 in Great Falls and ended the season with an overall record of 5-15.
After their 46-33 loss to Livingston on Thursday, the Ponies were hoping to bounce back on Saturday morning. But playing in loser-out action, the Ponies couldn’t overcome a sloppy start against the Lewistown Golden Eagles. The Eagles defeated the Ponies 59-56, breaking the Ponies’ hearts and ending their season.
“Our game plan was to get our four big kids the ball inside the key,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “Dane Warp, Kade Rismon, Jase Kato and Thurman Holdsclaw, we felt like they were bigger and stronger than them, and we felt like we would have a lot of success inside the paint with offensive boards and high percentage shots. We settled for jump shots instead.”
It may not have been a picture perfect game in the first half, but the Ponies played very well in the final two frames.
After trailing 38-22 at the break, the Ponies began to claw their way back into contention, executing the game plan with much more efficiency. They outscored the Eagles 17-12 in the third quarter, and were really sparked by a half court buzzer beater by Dane Warp to bring the Eagles’ lead to 50-39 with just one quarter left to play.
HHS turned up the full-court-press in the fourth quarter and forced seven turnovers in the frame, as well as a lot of bad Lewistown shots. The Ponies also took advantage of Dylan Stenseth fouling out with over five minutes still left to play.
Trailing by 11 to start the fourth quarter, the Ponies kept closing the gap, but just couldn’t take over the lead. A short Warp jumper brought the Ponies within 54-49 at the 2:11 mark, while another Warp shot inside the paint closed the gap to 55-51 at the 1:50 mark. With under a minute left to play the Eagles still led 55-51 and refused to let the Ponies past. The Eagles hit four free throws to stay in front, while another 3-point buzzer beater at the end of regulation by Warp sealed the Ponies season 59-56.
“The boys played their hearts out in the second half,” Leeds said. “We came out and attacked Lewistown in the paint and had a lot of success. That is what eats me up the most though, it feels like I failed as the coach because I couldn’t get the kids to play the style of game we talked about. That is coaching right there, there are several different offenses or defenses you can run, but getting five guys on the floor to play together, that is coaching. We didn’t do that all this year, but I think this team can get it going in the future.”
After shooting 39 percent in the first half, the Ponies shot 41 percent on the night. Warp scored 24 points, while Rismon finished with 19 to lead the Ponies’ efforts. Rismon also had 13 rebounds, while Holdsclaw grabbed seven and five assists.
The Central A tournament ended with Belgrade upsetting Browning in the championship game Saturday night at the CMR Fieldhouse. Both the Panthers and Indians move on to the Class A state tournament next week.
Lewistown 59, Havre 56 (lo)
Havre 9 13 17 17 – 56
Lewistown 20 18 12 9 – 59
Havre — Nate Rismon 3, Dane Warp 24, Alec Drew 1, Brian Smith 2, Ramsey Drew 1, Thurman Holdsclaw 4, Kade Rismon 19, Jase Kato 2.
Lewistown — Tre' Bradley 9, Brock Butcher 3, James Derheim 11, Dylan Stenseth 17, Jesey Perry 7, Jakob Plagenz 12.