By George Ferguson
You could say that the third time was not a charm for the Havre High girls basketball team. Or perhaps, you should say the third time was the charm for the Browning Indians as they defeated the Blue Ponies 54-40 in the opening round of the 2003 Central A divisional on Thursday afternoon in Butte.
It was the third time this season that Havre has fallen to the Indians, who entered the tourney as the third seed. The Ponies were victims of another poor shooting performance from everyone other than Carrie Flatau, as the senior forward scored 28 of Havre's 40 points.
Havre head coach Dennis Murphy admitted that shooting and late turnovers were the difference in the Ponies' third loss to the Indians.
"No one except for Carrie shot the ball well at all," Murphy said. "We still played them close for most of the game, but we made some turnovers late. We just couldn't get any offense out of the rest of the team and that makes it pretty tough against a team like Browning."
Indeed, the Ponies were close with the Indians as they trailed 9-8 after the first quarter and tied the game at 14-14 with two minutes left until halftime.
Browning made its first big run of the contest behind five points form Jill Mad Man which led to a 24-14 lead into intermission.
"We were right in the game until they went on a nice 10-0 run at the end of the quarter," Murphy said. "If we could have prevented that from happening, the game might have been different. We turned the ball over, committed a couple of bad fouls and that enabled them to get ahead. What really hurt, is that momentum carried into the third period."
The Indians used the third period to continue to pull away from the Ponies. Browning built the lead up to as many as 18 points and outscored Havre 13-8 in the quarter.
The Ponies made a late charge in the final period behind a couple of Carrie Flatau three's, but Murphy said that his team's fouls down the stretch allowed Browning to ice the game at the free-throw line.
The Indians were led by Dani Augare's 13 points and Joena Eagle Feathers added 12. Renessa Briere was the next closest Pony to Flatau's 28 with just five points.
The victory moves Browning into tonight's semifinal matchup with Livingston. The other semifinal will feature top-ranked Dillon and fourth-seeded Lewistown. Any Pony hopes to make the state tournament will have to go through the loser-out bracket. Murphy hopes that his team is prepared to do so.
"We are playing a team in Anaconda that we feel confident we can beat," Murphy said. "But it will be up to this team to decide if they want to step up and come back from this loss."
The Ponies will square off against Anaconda today at 12:30 p.m. at the Butte Civic Center. That game can be heard in Havre on 610 KOJM-AM.