By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
Slow starts have plagued the Havre High girls basketball team at times this season. In fact, the Ponies have led after the first quarter of a game just three times this year. And for the second time this season, a slow start hampered the Ponies against the Butte Central Maroons.
Havre scored just 15 points in the first half Friday night, as it dropped a critical Central A conference game, 64-52, at the brand new Maroon Activities Center in Butte.
The Maroons christened their brand new gymnasium by coming out of the gates red hot. They scored the game's first seven points and grabbed a 14-4 first quarter lead.
BC's hot shooting continued well into the second quarter. They led 29-9 at one point. The Ponies finished the half with six unanswered points. For the game, Butte Central shot a staggering 21-35 from the field and HHS head coach Jason Wirt said that that statistic combined with his team's sluggish start seemed to doom the Ponies.
"When a team shoots 21 of 35, it is pretty tough to beat them," Wirt said. "Butte Central just shot the ball extremely well and they weren't easy layups, either. They were hitting tough shots in transition and they were well-defended.
"I thought that we finished the first half playing pretty well," he added. "But the way we started the game really hurt us, and it made it pretty tough to come back when they were shooting the ball so well."
Despite the odds, the Ponies did manage to claw their way back into the contest, just as they did a month ago when they were plagued by the same slow start against the Maroons in Havre. The Ponies closed the gap to seven points late in the fourth quarter, but that would be as close as they would get the rest of the night.
While the loss was disappointing, Wirt liked the way his team played in the second half.
"I thought we played as well as we have played all season in the second half," Wirt said. "But it just wasn't enough to get all the way back into the game."
Brenna Mannion paced four Maroons in double-figures with a game-high 19 points. Jodi Hogart scored 14 points, including three three pointers. As a team, the Maroons were equally lethal from beyond the arc, hitting eight of 15 threes on the night.
The Ponies got another solid outing from junior Steph Flatau, who scored a team-high 16 points. Fellow junior Alexa Lipp came off of the bench to score 14 points. Lipp also nailed three treys on the night.
"Alexa played really well and she gave us a big lift offensively," Wirt said. "Becca Hilliard also did a really good job for us. She had a great night on the glass."
The loss to Butte Central drops Havre's overall record to 7-8 on the season. Havre is 3-5 in conference play with just two Central A games remaining on its schedule. The Ponies will be back in action on Friday night when they visit conference-leading Lewistown. Havre will wrap up its home schedule on Saturday night when its hosts Malta. The Ponies will honor their four seniors before the Malta game.
Havre 4 11 17 20 - 52
Butte Central 14 15 17 18 - 64
HAVRE (3-5, 7-8)
Amy McLain 2-9 2-3 7, Justine Erhard 1-9 5-6 8, Rebecca Hilliard 1-4 0-0 2, Stephanie Flatau 8-12 0-3 16, Whitney Barnekoff 0-2 0-0 0, Lena Suek 0-3 0-0 0, Alexa Lipp 4-6 3-4 14, Kelsey Evans 0-2 0-0 0, Keelie Solomon 2-2 0-0 5. Totals 18-49 10-16 52.
BUTTE CENTRAL (3-3, 8-5)
Jodi Hogart 5-12 1-2 14, Kelci Thatcher 0-0 0-0 0, Brenna Mannion 5-9 7-13 19, Kate Shovlin 1-2 1-2 4, Jordan Kambich 4-6 2-2 10, Britney Brophy 4-6 2-2 10, Kiley Prendergast 0-0 0-0 0, Kelsey Estabrook 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-37 14-23 64.
3-point goals - Havre 6-16 (McLain 1-4, Erhard 1-6, Lipp 3-4, Evans 0-1, Solomon 1-1), Butte Central 8-15 (Hogart 3-7, Mannion 2-2, Shovlin 1-1, Kambich 2-4, Brophy 0-1). Fouled out - none. Total fouls - Havre 20, Butte Central 16. Rebounds - Havre 27 (Hilliard 8), Butte Central 28 (Kambich 8). Blocks - Havre 1 (Lipp), Butte Central 1 (Mannion). Assists - Havre 7 (McLain 2, Flatau 2), Butte Central 15 (Shovlin 5). Steals - Havre 10 (McLain 3), Butte Central 7 (Shovlin 2, Hogart 2). Turnovers - Havre 16, Butte Central 19.