Havre Daily News
Coming off two difficult losses, the Havre High boys basketball team went into Saturday night's game against the Browning Indians looking for a little redemption.
They got it in a big way. In a game the Ponies needed to win, they used a well-balanced offense and a stingy defense to crush the Indians 68-49 at the HHS Gymnasium.
“This was the game that we wanted to get,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “The kids understood how important this game was, and we weren't going to let our disappointment of losing the other two games affect how we played this game.”
The victory was big for the Ponies because they improved to 3-0 on the season in conference play even though they are just 3-2 overall. The win followed a loss Friday at Cut Bank.
The Ponies trailed 6-4 early in the game, until Jeremy Giardina hit a 3-pointer that put the Ponies ahead for good. By the end of the first quarter, the Ponies led 20-8. The Ponies, who were sparked by Giardina's nine first-quarter points, would extend their lead to 17 points by the end of the first half.
“Jeremy hit a couple of shots in the first quarter and it really got us going,” Barnhorst said.
Both teams traded baskets in the second half, but the Indians could not make a significant dent in the Blue Pony lead. Browning got within 12 at one point in the third quarter, but would never get any closer as the Ponies cruised to an easy victory.
“We played much better offensively,” Barnhorst said. “We executed better than we have been lately, and we were a lot more balanced in terms of scoring.
“Defensively, we also played very well. We contested shots, and we did a good job of keeping them off the glass.” he added.
The Ponies were led by the sharp-shooting Giardina, who had 18 points to lead all scorers. Jared Weigel pitched in with 16 points in the winning effort. Mike Barton contributed 10 points and Logan Grant and Tanner Veis each added eight.
The win put an end to the Ponies' two-game skid and should help the them regain some of the confidence they may have lost after losing two tough games in a row.
“I think this win will do a lot for the kids' confidence,” Barnhorst said. “I think the team is really starting to gel now. Everyone is starting to get comfortable with each other and we are all getting on the same page.”
Before the Ponies' win against Browning, they traveled to Cut Bank to take on the defending Class B state champions Friday night. Unfortunately for the Ponies, beating a state championship basketball team on the road was a task too large, as the Ponies came up short, 51-41, in a defensive struggle.
The Ponies got off to a solid start, as they jumped out to an eight-point lead in the first quarter. After the first quarter, things began to sputter for Havre, as Cut Bank outscored the Ponies by 10 points in the second to take a 29-27 halftime lead.
“We got off to a good start,” Barnhorst said. “We shot the ball well in the first quarter, but then we started to miss easy baskets and we began to struggle a little bit.”
Neither team would give up any ground in the third quarter, and Cut Bank went into the fourth quarter up 37-35. That's when foul trouble and poor execution on the offensive end of the floor would do the Ponies in.
With some of their best players either fouled out or in foul trouble, baskets were hard to come by.
“We just didn't make plays at the end of the game,” Barnhorst said. “We have got to do a better job of executing in the fourth quarter.”
Giardina led the Ponies with 13 points and Barton contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Weigel, who is normally one the team's top scorers, was held to just seven points as he played limited minutes due to foul trouble.
“We got the win that we wanted to get,” Barnhorst said. “We also played two games against two quality opponents, and even though we came up short, I think the experience of being in a close game will help us. And the next time we are in that situation, we will execute better and find a way to win those close games.”
Havre High will be back in action Thursday night when it travels to Great Falls to take on Class AA rival CMR in a nonconference game.
Wolves 51, Ponies 41
Havre 19 8 8 6 - 41
Cut Bank 11 18 8 14 - 51
Havre - Tanner Donovan 2, Jeremiah Moog 4, Scott Miller 2, Jeremy Giardina 13, Jared Weigel 7, Logan Grant 3, Mike Barton 10. Totals: 15 8-13 41
Cut Bank - B. Coyelle 4, K. Altenberg 4, J. Larson 9, M. Stuart 8, C. Smith 12, M. Whelwchel 9, A. Brown 5. Totals - 17 16-33 51
Total fouls - Havre 26, Cut Bank 15. Fouled out - Weigel, Veis, Barton. Technical - Havre bench. 3-pointers - Giardina, Weigel, Grant, Stuart.
Ponies 68, Indians 49
Browning 8 11 19 11 - 49
Havre 20 16 19 13 - 68
Browning - R. Augare 7, J. Tailfeathers 1, J. Running Wolf 6, M. Madman 7, R. Ingraham 12, C. Not Afraid 4, J. Longtime Sleeping 4, DJ Fish 8. Totals - 20 7-9 49
Havre - Jeremiah Moog 4, Scott Miller 2, Jeremy Giardina 18, Jared Weigel 16, Logan Grant 8, Mike Sharp 2, Tanner Veis 8, Mike Barton 10. Totals - 25 14-19 68
Total fouls - Browning 18, Havre 14. Fouled out - none. 3-pointers - J. Giardina 2, L. Grant 2, R. Augare, M. Madman.