By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
The No. 2-ranked Havre High boys basketball team is clicking on all cylinders right now. And that was never more evident than on Saturday night as the Ponies dismantled the Class B Malta Mustangs 100-42 at the Havre High gymnasium. The win over Malta came on the heels of a 20-point blowout win in Lewistown on Friday night.
Havre used a stifling full-court press early to disrupt the Mustangs' offensive rhythm, while the Ponies' transition game became too much for Malta to overcome.
The Ponies opened up a 9-3 first-quarter lead before Malta's John Galt pulled the Mustangs even with a pair of 3-pointers. From that point on, the game turned into a rout. Havre forced Malta into six turnovers in the next five minutes and ripped off 11 straight points, mostly on easy transition layups, to close the first quarter with a 27-14 lead.
Havre's offense then exploded for 30 more points in the second period. The Ponies opened the quarter on a 9-0 run behind two straight transition baskets from Tyson Parman. The Ponies also closed the half out with a 12-1 run that put the Mustangs in an insurmountable hole, 57-25.
The Ponies shot an astounding 70 percent from the field in the first half and their defense created 14 turnovers, six on steals by Marc Mariani. HHS head coach John Barnhorst said his team could not have played much better than it did in the first half against the Mustangs.
"Our defense really created a lot of great opportunities for our offense tonight," Barnhorst said. "We got a lot of easy baskets off of turnovers, and our half-court game was really good. Everybody did a great job of playing team basketball. We were passing the ball and moving really well and we knocked down a lot of good shots."
Barnhorst turned the second half over to his bench, and the HHS reserves didn't let up. Havre outscored the Mustangs 24-7 in the third quarter to build an astounding 81-32 lead heading into the final stanza.
From there, the Ponies cruised home, hitting the century mark for the first time this season. Havre got 35 points from its bench, led by Patch Wirtzberger's 12 points. Jeremy Giardina poured in a season-high 10 points, and Mike Barton continued his fine play with 10.
Havre's starters were also sharp offensively. Ty Hedalen led all scorers with a game-high 25 points, and Jared Weigel scored 12. Mariani was the sixth Blue Pony to reach double figures with 11 points and he also added 11 assists.
The Mustangs got 12 points from Galt and five points apiece from Jordan Hould and Bo Stiles.
"I thought that Patch Wirtzberger and Jeremy Giardina had great games tonight," Barnhorst said. "Jeremy shot the ball really well and he needed a game like this to get his confidence up a little. He came in and played great for us tonight.
"I think that we are playing really good basketball right now and everyone is contributing," Barnhorst added. "Tyson Parman and Gary Wagner also played really solid this weekend, and they are doing a great job for us on both ends of the floor."
On Friday night, the Ponies were able to overcome a tough road trip to Lewistown and hand the struggling Eagles a 67-47 Central A conference loss.
The Eagles managed to keep the game close in the first half. Leading by just one point going into the second quarter, Havre outscored Lewistown 17-10 to grab a 33-25 halftime lead.
The Eagles fought back in the third period and cut the deficit to seven points, 48-41, going into the fourth quarter. But a final 19-6 push in the final stanza sealed the win for the Ponies.
"We played pretty well in spurts on Friday night," Barnhorst said. "Lewistown stayed right on the verge of making it a close game. But we shot the ball really well in the fourth quarter and the kids really tightened up defensively and we were able to put them away."
Hedalen again paced the Ponies with a game-high 17 points, while Mariani added a season-high 16. Weigel chipped in with 12 points for the Ponies. The Eagles were led by Mitch Braine and Jeremy Olson with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
After three games in three nights, the Ponies' record stands at 8-1 at the halfway mark of the regular season. Havre will host Belgrade on Friday night and Livingston on Saturday night.
Havre 67, Lewistown 47
Havre 16 17 15 19 - 67
Lewistown 15 10 16 6 - 47
Havre - Patch Wirtzberger 4, Marc Mariani 16, Jeremy Giardina 5, Gary Wagner 5, Jared Weigel 12, Tyson Parman 6, Ty Hedalen 17, Mike Barton 2. Totals 30 5-5.
Lewistown - Max Pearson 2, Jeremy Olsen 15, Brian Jeide 6, Mitch Braine 16, Colby Tognetti 6, Kam Pearson 2. Totals 17 9-11.
Three-point goals - Giardina, Warner, Olsen, Jeide 2, Braine. Total fouls - Havre 12, Lewistown 13. Fouled out - none.
Havre 100, Malta 42
Malta 14 11 7 22 - 42
Havre 27 30 24 19 - 100
Malta - Jay Galt 2, Tyler Sjostrom 2, John Galt 12, Bo Stiles 5, Lyndon Matthews 4, Colter Schwenke 4, Jordan Hould 5, Brian Tatafu 2, Jeremy Azure 2, Scott Lindgren 4. Totals - 12-4 6-11.
Havre - Patch Wirtzberger 12, Marc Mariani 11, Jeremy Giardina 10, Gary Wagner 8, Jared Weigel 12, Tyson Parman 9, Ty Hedalen 25, Tanner Veis 1, Mike Barton 10, Scott Miller 2. Totals - 25-5, 15-18.
Three-point goals - Galt 2, Stiles, Matthews, Wirtzberger, Mariani, Giardina 2, Weigel. Total fouls - Malta 18, Havre 13. Technical fouls - Stiles. Fouled out - none.