Havre Daily News
It was dj vu all over again for the Havre High boys basketball team as crucial mistakes once again cost the Ponies a chance to win a big game.
In a matchup of the top two teams in the Central A Conference, the No. 2 Butte Central Maroons all but ended Havre's chance at a conference title on Friday night with a 56-47 win in Butte.
Down three points with just a little over a minute to go and having possession of the ball, Havre was right where it wanted to be. But things did not go as planned. The Ponies turned the ball over on their next two possessions, and just like that, their opportunity was gone.
“It was the same old story,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “We had a chance at the end of the game and we just made some crucial mistakes. It has been the same kind of thing that has been killing us all year long.”
The Ponies, who were out to avenge a 75-61 loss earlier in the season to the Maroons, trailed by two points, 13-11, at the end of an intense first quarter.
In a back-and-forth second quarter, the Ponies grabbed a 19-16 lead before the Maroons exploded for a 9-0 run to take a 25-19 halftime lead.
“It was an intense game and we matched them punch for punch,” Barnhorst said. “We played good physical defense. We contested their shots. Overall we played pretty good but we just made too many mistakes at critical points in the game.”
The Ponies continued to struggle in the third quarter, especially on the offensive end, as they managed just eight points in the quarter. Havre's sluggish offense allowed the Maroons to extend their advantage to 38-31 heading into the final stanza.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start in the third quarter and it caused us to fall behind a little bit,” Barnhorst said.
Down by seven points, the Ponies slowly began working themselves back into the game with improved play on the offensive end and a stifling defense.
That's when the turnover bug came back and bit Havre, allowing Butte Central to once again seize control of the game.
“It's amazing to play that good of a team, turn it over that much and still have a chance to win it at the end,” Barnhorst said “You have to give a lot of credit to our defense. It kept us in the game and gave us a chance, but our offense just keeps letting us down at this point.”
Senior Jared Weigel led the way for the Ponies with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. Leading scorer Jeremy Giardina was held in check for most of evening, but still managed to notch 14 points to go along with four assists and three steals.
Butte Central had four players in double figures, led by Alex Murphy with 12 points. Shaughn McKeon and Matt Pokorny each had 11 points.
The loss was the Ponies' third straight, dropping them to 6-2 in conference play and 9-6 overall.
Despite the loss and the feeling of another missed opportunity, the Ponies have got to be encouraged by the fact that they were right there at the end.
“You have to give the kids a lot of credit. They played well for the most part and they battled tooth and nail the whole way,” Barnhorst said. “But we know we are right there and these kids know they can play with anybody. We just have to find a way to avoid crucial mistakes at the end of games.”
Havre will travel to Lewistown on Friday night and will host Malta on Saturday.
Butte Central 56, Havre 47
Havre 11 12 8 16 - 47
Butte Central 13 12 13 16 - 56
Havre - Jeremy Giardina 3-7 6-6 14, Jared Weigel 7-11 5-8 19, Logan Grant 2-5 2-2 8, Tanner Veis 0-1 0-0 0, Mike Barton 1-3 0-0 2, Jeremiah Moog 2-4 0-0 4, Andy Pester 0-0 0-0 0, Scott Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Sharp 0-0 0-0 0, Tanner Donovan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-32 13-16.
Butte Central - Jake Stagnoli 3-6 0-2 6, Shaughn McKeon 3-10 4-6 11, Matt Pokorny 4-10 2-3 11, Stephan Burns 5-8 0-3 10, Alex Murphy 5-9 1-1 12, JT McIntyre 0-1 0-0 0, Matt Ritter 0-4 3-4 3, Billy Robinson 0-0 1-2 1, Steven Ferriter 0-0 0-0 0, Casey Boyle 0-0 0-0 0, Nikolas Echarti 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsay Vainio 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 20-50 13-23.
3-point goals - Giardina 2, Grant 2, McKeon 1, Murphy 1, Pokorny 1. Total fouls - Hav. 19, BC 19. Fouled out - none