Havre Daily News
Hoping to earn a Class A state tournament berth by the end of the weekend, the Havre High boys basketball team ended the weekend with the future of its season still uncertain.
After beating Browning in the semifinals on Friday night, the Ponies matched up against the Butte Central Maroons on Saturday night in Belgrade in the championship game of the Central A Divisional Tournament.
The Maroons had already beaten the Ponies twice this season and the Ponies hoped the third time would be a charm.
Early on it appeared that it was the Ponies' night. Havre took an early three-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Ponies continued their solid play. But the Maroons slowly trimmed away the Ponies' lead until it was down to just a single point at the end of the first half, 24-23.
“We came out and played really well in the first half,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “We did a really good job on them defensively. They are an explosive team and we held them in check.”
By the end of the third quarter the game was all tied up.
Havre has struggled all year long in the fourth quarter, especially in tight ball games, and on Saturday night, that trend continued.
All of a sudden the Ponies couldn't find the basket, no matter what they did. Meanwhile, the Maroons execution was crisp and their patience on the offensive end seemed to methodically wear down Havre.
In fact, the Ponies failed to make a shot from the field in the entire fourth quarter.
“Our offense just got stagnate in the fourth quarter,” Barnhorst said. “We just couldn't knock down any shots and we turned the ball over too much, and it eventually cost us.”
With just a few minutes left in the game and the Ponies down by one, the Maroons were called for a technical foul and Havre had a golden opportunity to take control of the game.
Jared Weigel missed the front end of a one-and-one, and then Jeremy Giardina made one of two free throws to tie the game. But with the chance to take the lead, the Ponies couldn't convert.
Shortly after that, Matt Pokorny nailed a 3-pointer to give the Maroons a 41-39 lead, and it was a lead they would never relinquish. The Maroons hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
“We played really well for about 30 minutes,” Barnhorst said. “We just didn't make enough plays down the stretch to win the game. They made big shots and we made critical mistakes and that was the difference.”
Weigel and Giardina scored 15 points apiece for the Ponies in the loss.
Pokorny poured in a game-high 18 points for the Maroons, and Alex Murphy had 16 points on the night.
On Friday night the Ponies beat the Browning Indians for the third time this season, 56-46, in a game that was anything but a walk in the park for the Ponies.
Havre started off the game well, and the Ponies had a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But in the second quarter, with Havre leading 25-19 and firmly in control, the Indians went on a 7-0 run to finish the half and grab a 26-25 lead heading into the intermission.
“It was starting to get a little scary there for a while,” Barnhorst said. “We had the lead and all of a sudden they made a run at us and took the lead. For a while things weren't looking very good.”
The Indians continued their run in the third quarter and took a 31-25 lead. But the Ponies took a timeout and regained their focus. They were determined not to let Browning upset them two years in a row, and by the end of the third they reclaimed the lead 41-39.
Early in the fourth quarter Browning's DJ Fish fouled out and the Indians' offensive felt the after-effects. The Ponies knocked down some big free throws and held on for a 10-point win.
“We just eventually wore them out with our defense,” Barnhorst said. “They just really struggled offensively in the second half, mainly because we forced them to shoot a lot of outside shots.”
Weigel paced the Ponies with 15 points in the game, and Giardina added 12 points in the win.
Fish led the way for the Indians with 12 points in the loss.
The HHS loss in the championship game to Butte Central, combined with Belgrade's victory over Lewistown in the consolation game, means Havre will play Belgrade tonight in Cascade for the right to go to the Class A state tournament.
“The kids played well this weekend and they will be ready to play against Belgrade,” Barnhorst said. “They know how important the game is and they know we have to win it if we want to go to state.”
Havre 56 Browning 46 (sf)
Havre 13 12 16 15 - 56
Browning 8 18 13 7 - 46
Havre - Tanner Donovan 3-3 0-1 6, Jeremiah Moog 3-5 2-4 8, Scott Miller 0-0 0-2 0, Jeremy. Giardina 2-8 6-8 11, Jared Weigel 6-16 3-5 15, Logan Grant 4-7 0-0 8, Tanner Veis 0-2 2-2 2, Mike Barton 3-3 0-2 6. Totals: 21-44 13-24 56.
Browning - Ronald Augare 3-7 3-4 10, J. Blackman 3-6 0-0 6, Jordan Running Wolf 2-2 0-0 4, C. Juneau 3-6 0-0 8, R. Ingraham 0-7 2-2 2, A. Spotted Wolf 2-7 0-0 4, T.J. Fish 6-10 0-0 12. Totals: 19-45 5-6 46.
3-pointers - Giardina, Augare, Juneau 2. Total fouls - Havre 13, Browning 24. Fouled out - Running Wolf. Technical foul - Veis.
Butte Central 48 Havre 40 (1st)
Butte Central 11 12 11 14 - 48
Havre 14 10 10 6 - 40
Butte Central - Jake Stagnoli 0-4 0-1 0, Shaughn. McKeon 2-7 0-0 5, Matt Pokorny 6-1 2-2 18, J.T. McIntyre 0-1 1-2 1, Stephen Burns 1-3 4-5 6, Nick Ceharti 1-1 0-0 2, Alex Murphy 5-9 2-2 16. Totals: 15-36 9-12.
Havre - Jeremy Giardina 4-9 3-7 15, Jared Weigel 4-8 3-7 15, Logan Grant 1-3 2-2 5, Tanner Veis 1-1 1-4 3, Mike Barton 2-3 1-3 5. Totals: 12-24 8-18.
Total fouls - Butte Central 16, Havre 19. Fouled out - Stagnoli, Barton. Technical fouls - Murphy. 3-pointers - McKeon 1, Pokorny 4, Murphy 4, Giardina 3, Weigel 4, Grant 1.