Havre Daily News
All the Havre High girls basketball team wants is to get a little bit of respect. After demoralizing a very talented Malta team on the road, they may have just earned it.
The Ponies were looking to extend their wining streak to an amazing 11 games on Saturday night in Malta, while the M-ettes were after a little payback after Havre handed them their only loss of the season in Havre last month.
Sparked by the emotion of senior night and the chance of making a big statement by knocking off the Ponies, Malta came out fired up and took an early 12-10 lead in the first quarter. In the second quarter the emotion began to wear off and the Ponies took charge as they outscored the M-ettes 19-6 to take a 29-18 halftime lead.
“We got down early and they came out and attacked us right away,” HHS head coach Jason Wirt said. “But the kids were able to respond in the second quarter and take control of the game.”
In the third quarter any hopes that Malta had for a comeback were quickly dashed by the Ponies' aggressive defense and precise offensive execution.
Malta suffered an embarrassing 64-40 loss, the M-ettes' second of the season.
“We played all right,” Wirt said. “We just kind of got things rolling. We executed very well offensively and we did a good job of attacking their zone.
“We knew coming into the game that it was going to be a good test for us. That is a tough place to play against a very tough team,” he added. “It was a pleasant surprise to play as well as we did.”
The Ponies got a game-high 16 points and 14 rebounds from star player Steph Flatau. Senior Keelie Solomon contributed with 14 points, and sophomore Katie Mariani added 11 points off the bench.
“Steph is just a really solid player,” Wirt said. “We got great play from our bench and I think that Malta just simply ran out of gas. Our bench is much stronger than theirs and they didn't have anyone to go to when they got down.”
On the defensive end of things, the Ponies held Malta's Kelly Pankratz to 11 points on the night. Pankratz, the M-ettes' main scoring threat, got a couple of baskets early and then was rendered virtually irrelevant by the Ponies' suffocating defense. Besides Pankratz, no other Malta player reached double figures in scoring.
“Pankratz hit a couple of shots early on in the first quarter,” Wirt said. “Then we tightened up and we eliminated any second-chance opportunities.”
For the Ponies it was another impressive victory for a team that has made impressive victories seem routine.
“After we lost to CMR we knew that we had played as tough a schedule as any team and we felt that we could go on a little run. But we certainly didn't think about winning 11 in a row,” Wirt said. “Right now we are playing with a lot of confidence and we just have to try and keep it going.”
The Ponies will now turn their attention to the Central A regular-season championship and the top seed at the divisional tournament. Havre can win both of those by knocking off Browning next Saturday night in Browning. After that it's the divisional tournament. The Ponies will take it one game at time on their way to what they hope will be their first state tournament berth in five years.
“We have talked all year about making the state tournament and that is our biggest goal,” Wirt said. “But first we have to take care of our conference and just work on not having any slip-ups. Most importantly, we just have to keep playing well and playing with confidence.”
Ponies 64, Malta 40
Havre 10 19 14 21 - 64
Malta 12 6 8 14 - 40
Havre - Trish Samson 1, Steph Flatau 16, Kelsey Evans 7, Katie Mariani 11, Alexa Lipp 6, Keelie Solomon 14, Steph Stremcha 4, Lena Suek 5. Totals: 23 17-29.
Malta - Laramie Schwenke 9, Sarah King 1, Amber Harms 6, Jessica Henderson 2, Kelly Pankratz 11, Megan Skiff 4, Caitlin Smith 2, Katie Lowney 5. Totals: 15 7-14.
Total fouls - Havre 17, Malta 23. Fouled out - Lowney. 3-pointers - Evans, Mariani 3, Lipp 2, Harms 2, Pankratz.