By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
The Havre Blue Ponies return to Great Falls was anything but triumphant Thursday night. And as a result of an 80-50 pasting at the hands of the Great Falls High Bison, the Ole Goat trophy will remain in Great Falls for another year.
The Bison used some hot shooting and a tough zone defense to thwart any chance of the Ponies staying close in the second half, which was the difference, said Blue Pony head coach Mark West.
"Great Falls High had not shot the ball very well this season coming into this game," West said. "But they shot it extremely well against us tonight. We tried to make adjustments defensively, we played zone and we played man, but they just kept making shots. We just didn't have an answer for them tonight."
The Ponies managed to keep things close with their Class AA counterparts in the first half. Havre trailed by just one point at 20-19 after the first quarter. But the Bison picked up the scoring in the second quarter and pushed the lead to nine points, 42-33 at halftime.
West said that the halftime deficit could have been much worse if it were not for the timely shooting of senior Trent Normandy, who knocked down three three-pointers in the second quarter to keep Havre within single digits of the Bison.
"We played a pretty good first quarter and we were right in the game even though they were shooting it so well," West said. "In the second quarter, they started to really get going on offense. We probably would have been a lot further behind but Trent kept us in the game."
The Bison picked up the torrid scoring pace in the third quarter as they hit shots from inside and outside. GFH put up another 22 points in the third stanza while Havre managed just 10. That made the lead an insurmountable 23 points heading into the fourth quarter and things only got worse for the Ponies. The Bison outscored Havre 16-7 in the final period.
"It was a pretty frustrating game for us," West said. "There wasn't a whole lot we could do because they just kept making shots. We just didn't do a good enough job of adjusting and defending them."
The Bison had an all-around balanced attack in the scoring column as they had six players in double figures. Josh Saunders led the way with 13 points and the trio of Tyler Bolton, Tyler Corwin and Brian Bolwitt scored 12 points each. Bob Howard and Dan Mathes also chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"I think we were pretty well prepared for this game tonight and we played good basketball for two quarters," West said. "But you have to give the Bison a lot of credit. They shot the lights out and they played good defense in the second half."
Meanwhile, the Ponies were paced by Cory Brothers game-high 14 points, while Normandy added 10 and Jeremy Giardina added eight points in the losing effort.
Once again the Ponies also lost the rebounding battle as the Bison beat Havre 25-16 on the boards. Havre also turned the ball over 17 times to GFH's 12.
The win over Havre gets Great Falls High back to the .500 mark at 4-4 on the season while Havre's record falls to 7-3. The Ponies will not be back in action until Jan. 15 when they host the Harlem Wildcats. Havre will also travel to Glasgow on Jan. 17.
Great Falls High 80, Havre 50
Havre 19 14 10 7 - 50
Great Falls High 20 22 22 16 - 80
Havre - Cory Brothers 14, Marc Mariani 2, Tyler Hedalen 7, Jeremy Giardina 8, Trent Normandy 10, Tyson Parman 3, Patrick Wirtzberger 3, Bret Magelssen 3. Totals: 16-44, 13-60-50.
GFH - Josh Saunders 13, Tyler Bolton 12, Tyler Corwin 12, Dan Mathes 10, Brian Bolwitt 12, Britt Siddoway 2, Chad Fowler 4, Bob Howard 11, Shaun Tatarka 2, Tyler Lightbourne 2. Totals: 36-49 4-6 80.
Total fouls - Havre 12, GFH 15. Fouled out - none. Three point goals - Brothers 2, Normandy 3, Bolwitt 2, Saunders 2.