By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
The Havre High School Blue Ponies finished their season with a win over Belgrade on Saturday, taking third at the 2005 Central A divisional tournament in Belgrade.
But the Ponies' loss to Browning in Thursday night's semifinal proved to be the end of the line as Browning could not defeat Butte Central in Saturday night's championship game. Therefore, Havre, which defeated Belgrade, 66-50, earlier in the day could not challenge for the second spot and a chance to go to the state tournament.
"I just feel really bad for the kids," HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. "We felt like we deserved to be at the state tournament this year. But we lost to Browning at a really bad time and we didn't get the help we needed on Saturday night."
After the devastating loss to the Indians on Thursday, the Ponies bounced back on Friday afternoon to knock off Livingston, 69-40, setting up Saturday afternoon's consolation game with the host Panthers.
In that game Havre raced out to an early lead behind the steady play of senior point guard Marc Mariani. But the Panthers kept the game close in the first half, trailing by just five points, 29-25, at intermission.
"We played pretty well early against Belgrade," Barnhorst said. "But Belgrade is a very good team and we really couldn't put them away before halftime. Fortunately, we really heated up in the second half and we were able to get a pretty easy win."
Indeed, Havre scored 37 points to Belgrade's 26 in the final 16 minutes of the game and also had the Panthers in foul trouble for most of the fourth quarter. Mariani finished the game with a double-double, scoring 18 points and dishing out 12 assists. Junior Jared Weigel and senior Tyson Parman also scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, in what would eventually be Havre's last game of the season.
"Marc Mariani played amazing this whole weekend," Barnhorst said. "He did all he could do to help us win. I also thought that Tyson Parman had his best game of the year against Belgrade."
Havre finishes the 2004-05 season with a 17-4 overall record but will not have a chance to compete in a state tournament that they would have likely been favored to win. Although disappointed, Barnhorst admits that the season was still a success.
"Well, I thought we played really well this whole tournament and it has been a great year for us," he said. "The second half against Browning wound up being the difference between going and not going to state. Unfortunately for us, those types of things happen in basketball."
Havre 66 Belgrade 50 (3rd)
Havre 11 18 19 18 - 66
Belgrade 9 15 13 13 - 50
Havre - Patrick Wirtzberger 2, Marc Mariani 18, Jeremy Giardina 1, Gary Wagner 4, Jared Weigel 12, Tyson Parman 10, Ty Hedalen 4, Mike Barton 2. Totals 29 11-20.
Belgrade - Rowdy Peuse 4, Kraig Rieger 8, Rick Brown 9, Rusty Jones 3, Rex Martin 14, Jake Allmendinger 6, Brad Westmoreland 6. Totals 25 5-13.
Fouls - Havre 20, Belgrade 21. Fouled out - Parman, Martin. Three point goals - Mariani 2, Weigel, Rieger 2, Brown 2, Jones. Technical fouls - none.
Havre 69 Livingston 40(lo)
Livingston 9 9 12 10 - 40
Havre 14 20 17 18 - 69
Livingston - Ryal Wulf 11, Mychal McNamee 11, Mike Benvenga 2, Jay Hardesty 7, Greg Knupp 2, Carl Bernsten 7. Totals 17 9-14.
Havre - Patrick Wirtzberger 11, Mark Mariani 10, Coda Tchida 2, Jeremy Giardina 8, Gary Wagner 8, Jared Weigel 11, Tyson Parman 4, Ty Hedalen 9, Tanner Veis 1, Mike Barton 5. Totals 34 9-20.
Fouls - Livingston 19, Havre 17. Fouled out - none. Three point goals - Wulf, McNamee, Hardesty, Wirtzberger 3, Mariani, Giardina 2, Weigel 2. Technical fouls - Barton.