By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Call it a wake-up call, or any other cliche you could use for a bad loss. But Havre High head boys basketball coach John Barnhorst is hoping his team got the message after it was upset Saturday night, 75-71, in Browning.
The Ponies committed 26 turnovers and gave up a season-high 75 points en route to their first loss in well over a month. The loss also comes on the heels of a near-loss in Malta last weekend. It was also Havre's final tuneup before Wednesday's opening round of the 2005 Central A basketball tournament in Belgrade.
"We haven't played very well for a couple of weeks," Barnhorst said. "I think they have just been going through the motions, playing just well enough to win. And it finally caught up to us in Browning."
The Ponies allowed a Browning team that had won just five games all season, to race out to a 25-16 lead in the first quarter, forcing Havre to play catch-up the rest of the way. Havre did right the ship in the second period, as they narrowed the gap to just six points by halftime.
"We started to play better in the second quarter and we thought maybe things would be all right," Barnhorst said. "But then we came out and played a very poor third quarter and they got a big lead on us again."
The Indians limited Havre to just nine points in the third quarter to up their lead to 56-42. Although the Ponies stormed back to score 29 points in the fourth period, they could not slow the Indians down offensively and costly turnovers eventually did Havre in.
"We played really well offensively for most of the fourth quarter," Barnhorst said. "We had a chance to tie the game with 15 seconds left, but we turned the ball over and that was it.
"Browning basically outplayed us in every phase of this game,"Barnhorst added. "We turned the ball over way too much and our defense was basically nonexistent. We just didn't execute at all."
The Ponies also gave up a game-high 23 points to Andrew Sellers. Scott Rainingbird and Jordan Running Wolf added 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Havre got a team-high 14 points from Patch Wirtzberger off the bench. Jeremy Giardina added 13 points and Marc Mariani chipped in with 12.
The loss ends Havre's spectacular regular season with a 15-3 overall record. Havre finished conference play at 9-1.
The Ponies will have a bye in the first round of the Central A divisional tournament and they will play the winner of the Lewistown/Browning first-round game Wednesday afternoon. The other first-round matchup will feature Livingston and Butte Central while Belgrade also has a first-round bye.
While the loss to Browning didn't damage the Ponies' season or post-season aspirations, Barnhorst admits that he hopes it will serve as motivation this week and into the state tournament.
"I think this has to be a wakeup call for us and I think the kids will look at it that way," Barnhorst said. "Because if it isn't, then there is a good chance we will struggle at the divisional tournament as well."
Browning 75, Havre 71
Havre 16 17 9 29 - 71
Browning 25 14 17 19 - 75
Havre - Patch Wirtzberger 14, Marc Mariani 12, Coda Tchida 4, Jeremy Giardina 13, Gary Wagner 2, Jared Weigel 10, Tyson Parman 2, Ty Hedalen 5, Mike Barton 9. Totals 25 18-27.
Browning - Ryan Ojere 4, Nathan Manyhides 3, Scott Raining Bird 15, Jordan Running Wolf 14, Marcus Mad Man 10, Andrew Sellers 23, Jared Wolf Tail 6. Totals 31 12-17.
Total Fouls - Havre 15, Browning 22. Fouled out - Ojere. Three point goals - Tchida, Giardina 3, Weigel, Many Hides. Technical fouls - none.