Havre Daily News
For the Havre High boys basketball team, the 2006 Class A state tournament in Bozeman should have been a dream come true.
Instead it turned out to be a nightmare.
After staving off elimination Friday with a win over Polson in loser-out action the Ponies found themselves face-to-face with a familiar foe, the Butte Central Maroons.
The Maroons had already beaten the Ponies three times during the season, including last weekend in Belgrade in the Central A divisional championship game.
Now, with a berth in the State A consolation game on the line, Havre had a chance for a little payback.
Early on it looked like the game would be no different than the other three, as the Maroons grabbed an early 12-4 lead. But the Ponies were determined not to let their season go down in flames, and they fought back with a 21-point second quarter and a 25-21 lead at halftime.
“We struggled a little bit at the start and we fell behind early on,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “But, we had a good second quarter and we were able to take the lead going into halftime.”
At the start of the third quarter, the Ponies continued their strong play. They went on a 9-2 run to open the period, giving them a 34-23 lead. Havre was in control, but it wouldn't stay that way for long, as the Maroons made a run of their own.
Matt Ritter scored five straight points to pull Butte Central to within five points. By the end of the quarter, Havre's lead was reduced to four points after the Maroons went on a 14-7 run to make it 41-37 entering the final eight minutes.
“We had a pretty good-sized lead in the third quarter,” Barnhorst said. “But they turned up the pressure defensively and we didn't handle that very well. We just didn't manage the game very well with the lead.”
Stephan Burns earned an old-fashioned three-point play to open the fourth quarter for the Maroons. Then Shaugn McKeon scored to completely erase what had minutes before been an 11-point HHS lead.
All of a sudden the Ponies found themselves fighting from behind, and with 4:27 left in the game and trailing 46-43 they lost standout Jared Weigel.
Yet, Jeremy Giardina wouldn't let the Ponies go down without a fight as he nailed a 3-pointer to tie things up at 46-46 with just over three minutes left.
With 50 seconds left, Matt Ritter stepped to the line and hit two free throws to put the Maroons ahead 48-46. But Havre would get one last chance to keep its hopes alive. First, Logan Grant missed on a 3-point attempt, then Jeremiah Moog missed a putback before Mike Barton was fouled with seven seconds remaining. Barton stepped to the line and sank both free throws to tie the game at 48-48 and send the teams into overtime.
In the extra session, the Ponies were haunted by missed free throws as they missed two critical free throws that proved to be costly. With the Ponies trailing 53-49, Tanner Veis went to the line for two free throws and only connected on one. Moments later, however, Veis redeemed himself when he drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 53-53.
But with 12.3 seconds left, the game once again turned into a free-throw shooting contest and McKeon hit two free throws to give the Maroons a two-point cushion. Giardina missed a desperation shot at the buzzer and Butte Central escaped with the 55-53 win, their fourth over Havre this season.
“It's unfortunate that we go through stretches where we don't play very well,” Barnhorst said. “At the state tournament the games are going to be close and you have to be able to execute down the stretch and do all the little things well like hit free throws and take care of the basketball.
“Our two losses were by a combined four points,” he added. “So we had our chances. We just failed to execute down the stretch and it cost us.”
Giardina led the Ponies with 17 points. Despite being in foul trouble for most of the game, Weigel was able to notch 14 points.
The Maroons got 15 points from Burns.
On Friday afternoon, the Ponies fought back from an early deficit to defeat Polson in loser-out action 41-35 to keep their hopes for a trophy alive.
Giardina scored 13 points in the win for the Ponies. Weigel also contributed with nine points.
“After we lost to Glendive, our goal was to get to Saturday night and try to come away with a trophy,” Barnhorst said. “Unfortunately, things just didn't really go our way. We lost two games by a combined four points
“But I can't say enough about these kids,” he added. “They battled like crazy throughout the tournament and they put it all on the line when they were out there on the court. We just couldn't get a break in the close games, but that's basketball and that's just how it goes.”
Havre 41, Polson 35 (lo)
Havre 10 10 7 14 - 41
Polson 14 1 11 9 - 35
Havre - Jeremiah Moog 1-1 0-0 2, Jeremy Giardina 4-12 2-2 13, Jared Weigel 2-13 5-8 9, Logan Grant 2-9 0-0 6, Tanner Veis 0-3 1-2 1, Mike Barton 5-7 0-0 10. Totals 14-45 8-12.
Polson - John Rausch 0-2 0-0 0, Chris Ogle 0-4 0-0 0, Colton Woods 4-14 0-2 11, Andy Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Gabe Cayle 1-6 1-3 3, Bubba Michel 2-12 1-1 6, James Langston 5-11 5-8 15. Totals 12-50 7-14.
Total fouls - Havre 11, Polson 16. Fouled out - Cayle. 3-point goals - Havre 5-24 (Giardina 3-9, Grant 2-8), Polson 4-26 (Woods 3-13, Michel 1-7). Rebounds - Havre 45 (Barton 13, Weigel 12, Veis 10), Polson 24 (Michel 9).
Butte Central 55, Havre 53 (lo)
Havre 4 21 16 7 5 - 53
Butte Central 12 9 16 11 7 - 55
Havre - Jeremiah Moog 0-2 0-0 0, Scott Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Jeremy Giardina 6-14 1-3 17, Jared Weigel 5-9 3-7 14, Logan Grant 5-10 0-0 14, Tanner Veis 2-4 1-4 6, Mike Barton 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 18-40 7-16.
Butte Central - Jake Stagnoli 2-4 0-0 4, Shaughn McKeon 0-4 4-4 4, Matt Pokorny 3-7 1-2 7, Matt Ritter 2-4 2-2 7, Lindsay Vainio 2-3 0-0 4, Steven Ferriter 1-3 0-0 3, Billy Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, J.T. McIntyre 2-6 0-0 6, Stephan Burns 6-11 3-4 15, Casey Boyle 0-1 1-1 1, Nikolas Echarti 1-2 0-0 2, Alex Murphy 0-3 2-2 2. Totals: 19-49 13-15.
Total fouls - Havre 21, BC 12. Fouled out - Weigel, Veis. 3-point goals - Havre 10-22 (Giardina 4-8, Weigel 1-3, Grant 4-8, Veis 1-1), BC 4-17 (Ritter 1-2, Ferriter 1-2, McIntyre 2-4). Rebounds - Havre 30 (Barton 8).