Havre Daily News
After a disappointing performance last weekend against Butte Central, the Havre High boys basketball team responded by playing an inspired brand of basketball on their way to a sweep of Lewistown and Malta.
On Friday night against archrival Lewistown, the Ponies had what amounted to an offensive explosion, as they cleared the 80-point mark in a 85-77 win over the Eagles.
“It was probably the best we have played offensively all year long,” HHS head coach Jon Barnhorst said. “We got the inside-out game going, we moved the ball well, and we made the extra pass. We did a good job of finding the open man and also converted around the basket.”
The offensive explosion was led by senior Jeremy Giardina, who caught fire for a career-high 39 points. Giardina knocked down five 3-pointers and amassed 21 points in the fourth quarter alone.
Michael Barton also had a huge night for the Ponies, scoring a career-high 24 points on a night when the Lewistown Eagles had absolutely no answer for his dominating presence.
Giardina and Barton combined for an impressive 73 points on the evening, which equaled the 73 points the Ponies scored against Livingston, the team's previous season high for points in a game.
Jared Weigel also had a solid night for the Ponies with 12 points in the contest.
“It was really nice to see Mike play as well as he did,” Barnhorst said. “All week we made it a point of emphasis to get Mike the ball and try to establish him inside, and we were able to do that.
“We were a completely different team offensively with Mike scoring down low. Things opened up for our shooters and we were able to be much more efficient on offense,” he added.
The Ponies looked sharp right from the opening tap and they jumped out to an early lead. Barton got some easy baskets early on for the Ponies and that set the tone for the entire night. Havre played so well in the contest that the Ponies never trailed.
The game seemed to be well in control in the fourth when the Ponies grabbed their biggest lead of the night at 70-54. But the Eagles slowly crept back into the game by putting Havre at the free-throw line, and by making some clutch perimeter jump shots.
At one point the Ponies' lead shrank to 80-75, with possession belonging to the Eagles. However, Lewistown failed to convert on a desperation 3-point shot, and Giardina knocked down two clutch free throws to put the final nail in the coffin and preserve the eight-point triumph.
“The kids really executed well in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line,” Barnhorst said. “We didn't turn the ball over and we got some quality shots. And Jeremy was able to knock down some big free throws in the fourth quarter to give us the win.”
On Saturday night the Ponies walked into a hostile environment and walked away with an easy 79-54 victory over the Malta Mustangs.
The Ponies proved once again that they are not intimidated by playing on the road, as they have yet to lose on the road this season.
Havre used a 22-point first-quarter outburst to essentially shut the door on the Mustangs. By halftime, Havre's lead was 12 points, 41-29.
Malta refused to go away without a fight, playing the Ponies to a stalemate in the third quarter. The Mustangs trailed 53-41 heading to the final stanza.
In the fourth quarter, the Ponies took their game to another level and proved they are in an entirely different league than the Mustangs on their way to the 79-54 win.
“We played pretty well, I thought,” Barnhorst said. “We only turned it over 13 times, and Mike had another solid night. Mike really had a good weekend.”
Barton led the Ponies with 17 points. The Ponies also got big contributions from Weigel and Giardina, who each did their part with 15 points.
The Ponies began to develop a whole new look this weekend with Barton dominating inside. If he can keep up his solid play, the Ponies could be dangerous down the road.
“The kids are starting to understand the importance of having an inside threat,” Barnhorst said. “Because when we have that inside presence with Mike, we are a much better basketball team.
“We have seen a lot of improvement,” he added. “But we still need to keep getting better, and we need to get rid of the stretches where we struggle and just become a more consistent team all the way around.”
Havre High (7-3) will host Livingston and Belgrade next weekend.
Havre 85, Lewistown 77
Lewistown 12 22 11 32 - 77
Havre 20 16 15 34 - 85
Lewistown - M. Pearson 24, K. Recto 10, E. Stokken 7, K. Pearson 2, B. Mattheis 4, C. Tognetti 15, M. Burns 4, P. Buckington 11. Totals - 29 13-19 77
Havre - Scott Miller 2, Jeremy Giardina 39, Jared Weigel 12, Logan Grant 6, Tanner Veis 2, Mike Barton 24. Totals - 29 21-32 85
Total fouls - Lewistown 30, Havre 24. Fouled out - C. Tognetti. 3-pointers - M. Pearson 4, C. Tognetti, P. Buckington, J. Giardina 5, J. Weigel.
Havre 79, Malta 54
Havre 22 19 12 24 - 79
Malta 11 18 12 13 - 54
Havre - Tanner Donovan 4, Jeremiah Moog 11, Scott Miller 1, Jeremy Giardina 15, Jared Weigel 15, Logan Grant 5, Mke Sharp 2, Andy Pester 2, Tanner Veis 7, Mike Barton 17. Totals - 33 9-14 79
Malta - C. Darrah 6, L. Matthews 11, G. Webb 3, J. Hould 13, B. Tatafu 13, J. Azura 8. Totals - 21 7-11 54
Total fouls - Havre 12, Malta 12. Fouled out - none. 3-pointers - J. Moog, J. Giardina 2, J. Weigel, L. Matthews, G. Webb, B. Tatafu 3.