By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre Blue Ponies took care of some unfinished business during the course of a three game stretch this weekend. The Ponies were able to get a couple of proverbial monkeys off their back on Friday and Saturday night as they picked up a win in Harlem Friday night and a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Glasgow Scotties in their home opener on Saturday.
"These are two really nice wins for this team," said Blue Pony head coach Mark West. "We have only beaten Harlem twice now in three years and we had not won in their gym.
"And Glasgow was a big win for us because they have had a lot of success against us recently. Even though they are in Class B, they are a very good team that we have not been able to beat before."
After dispatching archrival Chinook on Thursday night, the Ponies made the trip back down Highway 2 to take on District 2B powerhouse Harlem.
The first quarter was as fast-paced and furious as have been most games between the two schools have been recently. Harlem and Havre traded baskets throughout the first eight minutes with Harlem taking an 18-16 lead at the end of the quarter.
The two teams continued the back-and-forth pace through most of the second period as the Ponies took a 32-31 lead at intermission. Harlem standout Ben Carrywater led all scorers at the break with 14 points, while the Ponies were paced by Tyler Hedalen with 10 points.
But it was the third quarter that changed the complexion of the contest. Harlem's Jordan Mount drilled four three-pointers in the quarter to spark the Wildcats. However, the Ponies were able to keep pace with a barrage of threes of their own. Jeremy Giardina connected on two in the period and Cory Brothers also hit from long-range.
But it was Trent Normandy who seized momentum for the Ponies by taking a critical charge in the quarter's final seconds and then drilling a three-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer to give Havre a 52-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, it was Havre's defense that flexed its muscle, as both teams played the first three minutes of the period without scoring a single basket. Unfortunately, for the Wildcats, they would not score until the game was out of reach. Harlem's only points in the fouth quarter came on three free throws with :55 seconds remaining in the game as Havre ran away with a 64-50 win.
"Havre's defense and quickness was the real key tonight," said Harlem head coach Kyle Bigby. "(Marc) Mariani was a huge factor for Havre. He is so quick and he made things really difficult for us, especially in the second half."
Coming into the contest, Brothers and Carrywater were billed as the game's two stars, but Carrywater put the clamps on Brothers all night long. However, Brothers returnedthe favor to Carrywater in the second half. And in the end it was the rest of the Ponies that picked up the scoring and carried Havre to a win.
"Havre has a lot of weapons and they have so much quickness," Bigby said. "Carrywater and Brothers really shut each other down because they both played such great defense, but Havre had some other guys step up and make shots in the second half.
"I was really happy with the way we played defensively," Bigby added. "But we got tired in the second half. We are still a young team learning how to play together and it showed in the fourth quarter."
Hedalen led all scorers with 20 points and Giardina chipped in with 13 points, including 4 treys. Mariani had another fine all-around game with 11 points and six steals. Carrywater led the way for the Wildcats with 17 points, but had just two of those points in the second half. Mount added 14 points in a losing effort.
"I was really pleased with our defense against Harlem," West said. "The kids played hard and we had some kids make big shots in the second half. It was a big win for us."
Things would get even more interesting in Havre on Saturday night against Glasgow as the Ponies had to come from three points down late in the fourth quarter to pull off a 64-63 win over the Scotties in front of a noisy Havre crowd.
The Ponies actually trailed the Scotties by five points with less than two minutes to play, when a struggling Brothers sank a huge three-pointer to pull the Ponies within two points at 61-59. Seconds later Mariani picked off an errant Glasgow pass and found a wide-open Jared Weigel for a layup that tied the contest at 61-61.
Glasgow's Randy Elletson made short work of the tie, answering immediately with a tough driving basket, giving the Scotties a two-point lead with less than a minute to go.
But Elletson's fortune changed moment later as he missed a free throw that could have potentially sealed the game. After Brothers missed a game-tying shot, Glasgow tried to run the clock out. Mariani stole the ball from the Scotties and fed a streaking Brothers, who converted the game-tying layup. Brothers was also fouled on the play and he sank the bonus free throw to give the Ponies a one point lead at 64-63. Elletson's final desperation attempt at a game-winner failed and the Ponies escaped with a one-point win, which upped their record to 4-1 on the season.
"That is a great win for these kids," West said. "I was proud of the way they fought hard and stayed in it. We were down late a couple of times and things didn't look good, but I think our kids had a lot of confidence. They knew they could come back and win this game."
The Ponies actually jumped all over Glasgow early and looked like they would cruise after taking a 20-15 first quarter lead. But in the second quarter the Scotties' Glenn Bratz heated up, drilling three three-pointers in the period to spark the Scotties to pull within one at 34-33 at the break.
Bratz scored 10 more points in the third quarter as the Scotties went on a 9-0 run to take the lead going into the fourth quarter at 49-47. In the final period, the Scotties continued to hold on to that margin until the game's final minutes when Mariani and Brothers took over the contest.
"Glasgow is still a very good team and they gave us a lot of trouble tonight," West said. "(Glenn) Bratz shot the lights out and we just couldn't stop him."
Brothers and Mariani led the way for the Ponies scoring 16 and 12 points ,respectively. Bratz led all scorers with 25 points, while Nate Barstad added 15 points and Elletson chipped in with 10.
"Cory and Marc really took the game over at the end," West said. "Cory did not shoot the ball well this weekend and it is nice to know that we can still win games against good teams in that situation. I was really proud of how all of our kids really stepped up this weekend and played well."
The Ponies will be back in action on Thursday night when they travel to Great Falls to take on Class AA powerhouse CMR. Havre will also host Lewistown on Saturday night.
Havre 64, Harlem 50
Havre 16 16 20 12 - 64
Harlem 18 13 16 3 - 50
Havre - Patrick Wirtzberger 2, Marc Mariani 11, Trent Normandy 3, Cory Brothers 7, Jeremy Giardina 13, Tyler Hedalen 20, Brett Magelssen 4, Tyson Parman 4.
Harlem - Brian Azure 3, Ben Carrywater 17, Keenan Fetter 2, Jim Kennedy 8, Jordan Mount 14, Matt Pettit 2, John Young 4.
Total fouls - Havre 7, Harlem 15. Fouled out - none. Three point goals - Normandy, Brothers, Giardina 4, Carrywater 3, Mount 4.
Havre 64, Glasgow 63
Glasgow 15 18 16 14 - 63
Havre 20 14 13 17 - 64
Glasgow - Seth Combs 3, Glen Bratz 25, Randy Elletson 10, Nate Barstad 15, Trevor Waarvik 6, Nate Doorack 4.
Havre - Patrick Wirtzberger 2, Marc Mariani 12, Cory Brothers 16, Jeremy Giardina 9, Tyler Hedalen 8, Jared Weigel 8, Tyson Parman 9.
Total fouls - Glasgow 19, Havre 17. Fouled out - Doorack. Three point goals - Bratz 5, Mariani, Giardina 3, Brothers 2.