By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports /email@example.com
CHINOOK - On Tuesday night in Chinook, the Havre High girls basketball team put an end to its historic rivalry with Chinook Sugarbeeters with an emphatic 54-36 victory at the Chinook High School gymnasium.
With the Beeters planning on dropping down to Class C next season due to a drop in enrollment, Tuesday night's clash with the Ponies was the last time the two girl's programs will meet on the hardwood for the foreseeable future. The schools still have one more boys game, which will be played later this month in Havre.
The possible last meeting ever was eerily familiar to the game the two teams played earlier this season.
Like the first meeting in December, defense played a huge factor in the outcome. Chinook managed to solve Havre's suffocating full-court press early in the opening quarter as the Beeters staked themselves to 7-6 lead in the game's opening minutes.
However, the Ponies responded by closing the first period on a 9-0 run that started with a Steph Flatau layup and ended on an Alexa Lipp offensive putback to give Havre a 20-9 edge after eight minutes of action.
From there, the Ponies stifled Chinook with a multitude of different defensive looks as well as a solid offensive output.
"Chinook didn't turn the ball over as much as they did the first time that we played them," said HHS head coach Jason Wirt. "But our defense isn't designed to just create turnovers. We got them playing a lot faster than they wanted to, and we forced them to take shots that were marginal.
"We used six different defenses tonight," he added. "These are things we have been working on since the first practice of the season, and our kids did a great job using all of the different looks effectively."
Chinook head coach Mark Roseberry also credited Havre's defense for the Beeters season-low 36 points.
"We just never got anything going offensively tonight," Roseberry said. "But you have to give a lot of credit to Havre's defense. They just defend very well, they are aggressive and they showed us a lot of different looks. It was a huge defensive effort tonight."
After the first quarter, the Ponies basically cruised home. Havre's bench helped pad the Ponies' lead in the second quarter. Juniors Keelie Solomon and Kelsey Evans came in and knocked down a couple of shots as did sophomore Lena Suek, who nailed a three-pointer that upped the Ponies lead to 14 points.
Evans closed out the half with a trey that gave the Ponies a 34-20 lead that they would maintain throughout the second half.
"I thought we got great minutes from our bench," Wirt said. "Lena, Kelsey and Keelie all came in and did a great job for us. They played very aggressive on offense and gave us a real nice lift tonight."
Overall, the Ponies were paced by leading scorer Steph Flatau's game-high 14 points. Justine Erhard chipped in with seven points and Solomon, Suek and senior Whitney Barnekoff added six points a piece.
While some coaches worry that the holiday break may cause a team to have some rust, Wirt said that his team showed no ill effects .
"I was really pleased with how we played offensively," Wirt said. "We did a great job of getting people open and putting a lot of pressure on Chinook defensively. We were really sharp offensively and the kids played very unselfishly."
The Beeters got 13 points from Whitney Lybeck and nine from Brittany Williams in the loss. It was a tough night for Chinook offensively. They also were severely outebounded by the Ponies, giving up 10 second-chance points in the first half.
"Havre shoots the ball really well and they also killed us on the boards," Roseberry said. "I think that Havre just played a really good all-around game tonight."
Still, Roseberry knows this one game won't determine the outcome of his team's season.
"There are a lot of games left to be played this season," he said. "We just have to continue to work hard and get back on track."
The loss to Havre drops Chinooks overall record to 2-4 on the season. The Beeters will travel to Glasgow on Friday night before returning home to host Fairfield on Saturday night.
Havre (4-3) will be back in action on Saturday night when it hosts Butte Central in a Central A showdown at the Havre High gymnasium.
Havre 54, Chinook 36
Havre 20 14 10 10 - 54
Chinook 9 11 10 6 - 36
Havre - Steph Flatau 14, Amy McLain 2, Kelsey Evans 5, Alexa Lipp 4, Justine Erhard 7, Keelie Solomon 6, Lena Suek 6, Whitney Barnekoff 6, Rebecca Hilliard 4. Totals: 21 9-18 54.
Chinook - Whitney Lybeck 13, Crystal Roseberry 4, Kassie Dugan 4, Georgia Barber 6, Brittany Williams 9. Totals: 14 7-16 36
Total fouls - Havre 14, Chinook 15. Fouled out - none. Three point goals - Havre 3 (Suek 2, Evans 1); Chinook - 1 (Barber).