By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
For a good portion of the 2003-2004 season, defense has been the Achilles heel of the Havre High girls basketball team. However, that was not the case in a pair of home wins this weekend over District 2B foes Harlem and Glasgow.
Friday night, the Ponies pasted the Harlem Lady Wildcats 74-29. Saturday night Havre was equally as dominant in a 62-25 win over the Glasgow Scotties.
In Friday night's contest against Harlem, it did not take long for the Blue Ponies' pressure defense to overwhelm the struggling Wildcats.
Havre scored the game's first 21 points and forced Harlem into 10 turnovers during that stretch. At one point during the run, the Ponies converted five straight steals into baskets, including two in a row by sophomore Steph Flatau, who finished with 11 steals on the night.
When the dust settled on a disastrous first quarter for Harlem, the Wildcats had committed 14 turnovers, and the Ponies possessed a seemingly insurmountable 27-8 lead.
If things weren't bad enough in the first period, the Ponies began the second quarter by ripping off 14 straight points before June Daniels finally got Harlem its 10th point of the night. The Ponies went into intermission with a 49-13 lead.
"It was obvious that our pressure was tough on Harlem's ballhandlers," said HHS head coach Dennis Murphy. "We wanted to come out and work on our press and our running game in the first half and we accomplished that. We got a lot of steals and were able to turn them into some easy transition baskets."
With a large lead in the second half, Murphy was able to rest some of his starters and get some valuable minutes for his younger players. Sophomores Keelie Solomon and Kacy Herron saw action in the second half as well as junior Andee Peterson. The Blue Pony reserves closed out the Wildcats by outscoring them 26-16 in the final two quarters.
"It was really nice to have a game in which we could play all 12 people," Murphy said. "We don't normally get to do that, but tonight we got all of our subs in and they all contributed tonight."
Jolene Fuzesy led the way for the Ponies with a game-high 20 points. Steph Flatau chipped in with 11 points and Alicia Overcast added 10 in the win.
The story of the night for Harlem was its 32 turnovers. But the Wildcats did get a fine all-around performance from Daniels with 10 points.
On Saturday night, the Ponies remained at home to welcome the Glasgow Scotties. As defensively dominant as Havre was on Friday, Murphy believed that Saturday's performance against the Scotties was even better.
Havre's full-court pressure immediately got to the Scotties as the Ponies reeled off the first 10 points of the contest. The Scotties were forced into eight first-quarter turnovers, which helped the Ponies build a 23-6 first-quarter lead. Jolene Fuzesy was also partly responsible for the Ponies' hot start, scoring 11 points in the first period.
In the second period, the Ponies continued to keep the shackles on Glasgow's offense as they held the Scotties to four points in the period, taking a 33-10 lead at intermission.
The Ponies picked up the intensity again to start the third quarter, going on an 8-0 run. Havre held Glasgow to another six points in the quarter as it led 49-16 after three periods. The Ponies then finished off the Scotties by outscoring them 13-9 in the final stanza.
Havre's pressure forced the Scotties into 30 turnovers. Murphy was very happy with his team's efforts on the defensive end.
"Tonight was our best defensive effort of the season," Murphy said after the game. "I was very happy with the effort of our entire team. We had girls diving for loose balls and just playing really good defense. It was fun to watch tonight."
Fuzesy again led the way for Havre offensively. She scored a game-high 27 points, including two three-pointers. Flatau chipped in with 10 points, and the trio of Kacy Herron, Amy McLain and Alexa Lipp added six points each.
The Scotties were paced by Kim Swanson's seven points, and Tiffany Waters added six points in the loss.
"Two things that were important that we accomplished this weekend were that we got better on defense," Murphy said. "We did exactly what we wanted to do against both teams and our effort was tremendous.
"We also didn't have breakdowns when we subbed," Murphy added. "We played well with different lineups on the floor. That is important because we will need our bench as we go down the stretch run of the season."
The two victories push Havre's record to 8-3 on the season. The Ponies will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Great Falls to visit the CMR Lady Rustlers. Havre will host Central A rival Lewistown on Saturday.
Havre 74, Harlem 29
Harlem 8 5 8 8 - 29
Havre 27 22 19 6 - 74
Harlem - Carly Haluszka 4, Danielle Dirden 2, Star Carrywater 1, Kylee Stiffarm 2, Kayla Horn 1, Leandra Thomas 2, Colleen Filesteel 4, Gemma Rides At the Door 3, June Daniels 10. Totals 10 9-17 29.
Havre - Alicia Overcast 10, Amy McLain 4, Steph Flatau 11, Kacy Herron 6, Alexa Lipp 6, Justine Erhard 5, Keelie Solomon 2, Andee Peterson 2, Whitney Barnekoff 3, Jolene Fuzesy 20, Rebecca Hilliard 5. Totals 33 8-15 74.
Havre 62, Glasgow 25
Glasgow 6 4 6 9 - 25
Havre 23 10 6 13 - 62
Glasgow - Alexa Etchart 2, Kim Swanson 7, Karissa Hughes 4, Chelsie Pattison 2, Annie Strommen 4, Tiffany Waters 6. Totals 10 5-7 25.
Havre - Alicia Overcast 4, Amy McLain 6, Steph Flatau 10, Kelsey Evans 3, Alexa Lipp 6, Kacy Herron 6, Andee Peterson 2, Jolene Fuzesy 27, Rebecca Hilliard 4. Totals 26 7-16 62.
Total fouls - Glasgow 10, Havre 13. Fouled out - none. Three-point goals - Lipp, Fuzesy 2.