By George Ferguson
Sometimes a long layoff can do a team some good, but sometimes it can be a disadvantage. For the Havre High boys basketball team, it had to overcome a rusty offensive performance Thursday night to outlast the Chinook Sugarbeeters 59-49 at the Havre High Gymnasium.
Neither the Ponies nor the Beeters played particularly well on a night that was marked by turnovers and poor outside shooting.
Despite picking up a key victory, Havre head coach Mark West was concerned with where his team's offensive attack or lack thereof.
"We are just not clicking offensively right now," West said. "We shot the ball extremely poor tonight and Chinook was able to have some success with their zone defense because of that.
"On the other hand I was pleased with our overall effort and defensive intensity tonight," West continued. "I thought the kids played hard and it was still a good win."
The Ponies opened the game with a key 9-0 run sparked by three straight Chinook turnovers, as well as six points from senior reserve Eric Ward, who was seeing his first action in over a month. If it wasn't for two Matt Roseberry three-pointers in the final minute of the quarter, the Beeters would have found themselves in a much deeper hole than the 15-9 first quarter deficit they faced.
The second period saw the Ponies run off another nine straight points - seven of which came from junior Cory Brothers. The run pushed Havre to a 36-23 halftime lead.
Despite the halftime deficit, Chinook head coach Scott Friede was pleased with his team's effort.
"I liked what we did offensively in the first half," Friede said. "We played pretty well and I saw some good things from our guys."
The third quarter saw the Beeters outscore the Ponies 18-14, allowing them to pull within nine points at 50-41. After a slow star, Casey Schmitt got going for the Beeters - scoring 10 of his game high 20 points in the period. But Havre got another lift from a reserve player, as junior Bret Magelssen scored six third-quarter points filling in for Ryan Lusin, who spent much of the second half in foul trouble.
The fourth period was marked with sloppy play from both teams and a critical technical foul on Friede just as the Beeters were attempting a late rally. After Brothers knocked down the two free throws with 5:59 left, the Beeters would manage just one field goal the rest of the way as Havre went to the four-corners offense to preserve the 10-point victory.
"We had our chances in the fourth quarter," Friede said. "It was just one of those situations where we could not make anything happen down the stretch."
West attributed his team's poor second half to foul trouble and shooting.
"Ryan being in foul trouble really took us out of our flow offensively," West said. "And we just did not shoot the ball well at all the entire game."
Despite a tough night from the floor, Brothers led the way for Havre with 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He also shot 10-13 from the free-throw line. Trent Normandy had nine points, all on three's, and Magelssen and Ward chipped in with eight points each.
"We got a big lift off the bench from Bret and Eric tonight," West said. "Having Eric back is really going to help us out in the long run."
The Beeters were led by Schmitt's 20 points. Michael Mereness added nine in the losing cause.
Despite the loss, Friede is taking some positives from the game.
"I think this is one of our best overall efforts this season," Friede said. "We played pretty well for most of the game, but I think you have to give a lot of credit to Havre. They put the pressure on us and they found a way to get the win."
The Beeters, 2-4 overall, will host the Glasgow Scotties tonight at 7:30 p.m.
"Glasgow is going to be another tough game for us," Friede said. "But I like where we're going and we have a lot of room for improvement right now."
With the win, the Ponies up their record to 4-3 and will host the Malta Mustangs on Saturday night.
West knows that the Mustangs will be ready to go against his Ponies.
"Malta has a really solid ballclub," West said. "They have some really nice size on the inside and two outstanding guards on the perimeter. We are going to have to raise the level of our play on Saturday."
West says that against Malta a couple of things will be key.
"For us to be successful against Malta we are going to have shoot the ball much better," West said. "And we are going to have to go to the boards much better because they will match up very well with us inside."
The game between the Ponies and Mustangs will tip off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at the Havre High Gymnasium and can be heard on 610 KOJM-AM.