Havre Daily News
It was a devastating weekend for the Havre High girls basketball team at the Central A tournament. Looking for their first state tournament berth in five years, the Ponies finished a disappointing third after a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Livingston on Friday night put their hopes on hold.
Saturday morning in Belgrade, the Ponies had to pick up the pieces against Belgrade.
Many teams would have packed it in, but not this team. The Ponies got off to a bit of a sluggish start but by halftime had a 33-20 lead and the game was well under control.
By the time the second half rolled around, the Ponies had it on cruise control as they rolled to an easy 62-44 victory in loser-out action.
Steph Flatau scored a game-high 17 points in the win and Keelie Solomon also contributed with 11 points for the Ponies.
“The kids did a good job of coming out and playing hard,” HHS head coach Jason Wirt said. “They showed a lot of heart by not packing it in and not giving up.”
Saturday night the Ponies took on the defending state champion Lewistown Eagles in the consolation game. It was a game Havre needed to win to have any chance to challenge for a Class A state tournament berth.
The Ponies flew out of the gates and, led by the sharpshooting of Alexa Lipp, they grabbed a 24-14 halftime lead.
Lipp continued her hot streak into the second half, and the Ponies simply outran the Eagles on their way to an impressive 57-33 win, earning the third-place trophy.
Lipp led the way for the Ponies with 23 points, including a school-record seven 3-pointers.
After receiving a first-round bye for their second-place finish in the regular season, the Ponies faced off against the Livingston Rangers in the semifinals in what turned out to be a battle for a berth in the Class A state tournament.
Havre had already beaten the Rangers on two different occasions over the course of the season, each time by double digits.
After the Ponies jumped out to a 9-4 lead, it seemed as though they would do it again.
However, there was something different about the Rangers this time around. By the end of the first quarter, they had fought their way even with the Ponies at 14-14.
Then, in the second quarter the Rangers began to get hot. Sage Indendi hit a couple of jumpers and Sara Meyer was getting whatever she wanted down low, as the Rangers took a 26-21 lead. Kelsey Evans answered with a 3-pointer, but at halftime the Ponies trailed 28-25.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a very close game,” Wirt said. “In divisionals it is always different, and we knew that the game was going to be determined in the last four minutes. And it was.”
In the third quarter, Brianna Ackerman pushed the Rangers' lead to five points on two different occasions, but the Ponies answered with four straight free throws and a basket by Flatau to tie things up at 33-33.
Late in the third quarter Meyer was called for a foul. She slammed the ball and received a technical foul, giving her five fouls and disqualifying her from the game. After two Katie Mariani free throws, two Flatau free throws and a Keelie Solomon basket, the Ponies took a two-point deficit and turned it into a four-point lead in just one possession.
“I thought we were in a good position after Meyer fouled out,” Wirt said. “But I guess we just relaxed and that hurt us.”
Ahead 46-44, the Ponies extended their lead to 50-44 early in the fourth quarter after baskets by Evans and Steph Stremcha.
But just when it appeared all was well for the Ponies, Indendi came to life.
She quickly drained two treys, and just like that the game was tied. But once again the Ponies pulled ahead after Lipp drilled a trey. Havre led 62-55 with three minutes to go.
Indendi hit another three, then a two and later on she would hit two more free throws to tie the game up at 64-64.
“They just had a bunch of girls step up,” Wirt said. “They all kept making shots down the stretch and we just didn't execute in some situations.”
With their lead gone, the Ponies went on the offensive and with 10 seconds left Lipp banked in a basket to go ahead 66-64. The Rangers pushed the ball up the floor and after a missed shot made frantic attempts to put it back. As time ran out, Lindsay Reimer tied the game and sent it into overtime.
“Their bench really stepped up big,” Wirt said. “We could never get the stop that we needed to win. We made them take a tough shot but we just didn't rebound.”
In overtime the Ponies grabbed a five-point lead after Evans hit a trey. But once again the Ponies couldn't hold the lead and the Rangers took the lead thanks in part to six points by Kelsey Joronen.
Down 74-72, the Ponies had a chance to tie the game, but Flatau missed a wide-open layup underneath the basket, allowing the Rangers to escape with a dramatic 79-75 win.
“We just didn't execute the way we needed to down the stretch,” Wirt said. “We haven't played in very many close games all year long and in the end it came back to bite us.”
Evans scored 21 points in the loss for the Ponies (15-6), and Flatau added 16 points. Flatau also became Havre High's all time leader in total rebounds after grabbing 16 against the Rangers.
Indendi sparked the Rangers with a game-high 27 points, and Joronen added 14 points off the bench.
Havre's chances for a state tourney berth officially ended Saturday night when Browning beat Livingston in the Central A title game.
“It's a tough way to end the season,” Wirt said. “It's disappointing, but we still had a good year. Not all good teams make it to state, and we can't let one loss define our season.”
Livingston 79 Havre 75 (sf)
Havre 14 11 19 22 9 - 75
Livingston 14 14 11 27 13 - 79 Havre - Steph Flatau 3-10 10-14 16, Kelsey Evans 5-11 8-10 21, Katie Mariani 2-6 2-4 6, Alexa Lipp 3-10 5-10 12, Keelie Solomon 4-9 5-6 13, Steph Stremcha 2-9 0-0 4, Lena Suek 1-6 0-0 3. Totals - 20-63 30-46 75.
Livingston - Lindsay Reimer 1-1 1-4 3, Sarah Meyer 6-9 1-2 13, Sage Indendi 9-15 4-6 27, Lydia Thiry 0-2 5-6 5, Lilly Davaz 2-8 0-0 6, Brianna Ackerman 4-15 3-4 11, Kelsey Joronen 3-6 8-9 14. Totals - 25-56 22-31 79.
Total fouls - Havre 24, Livingston 27. Fouled out - Joronen, Ackerman, Meyer, Evans. 3-pointers - Evans 3, Lipp, Suek, Indendi 5, Davaz 2.
Havre 62 Belgrade 44 (lo)
Belgrade 13 7 8 16 - 44
Havre 17 16 12 17 - 62
Belgrade - Necia Knuchel 1 1-2 3, Jessie Greany 5 1-3 12, Carissa Boulton 1 0-1 2, Jillian Hoblitt 3 3-5 11, Lyndsey Green 2 0-2 4, Sadie Locken 3 0-1 6, Brittney Harvey 0 1-2 1, Brittney Larsen 1 1-2 3, Jamie Greany 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 7-18.
Havre - Tricia Samson 0 3-4 3, Step Flatau 6 5-6 17, Hope Hedges 0 1-2 1, Kelsey Evans 1 1-2 6, Katie Mariani 2 8-9 12, Alexa Lipp 1 1-4 4, Keelie Solomon 4 2-4 11, Steph Stremcha 2 1-2 5, Lena Suek 1 0-0 3. Totals: 18 22-33.
3-poiners - Hoblitt 2, Jessie Greany, Evans, Lipp, Solomon, Suek. Total fouls - Bel 21, Hav 19. Fouled out - none.
Havre 57 Lewistown 33 (3rd)
Havre 13 11 18 15 - 57
Lewistown 7 7 6 13 - 33
Havre - Tricia Samson 0-1 4-6 4, Steph Flatau 4-4 0-2 8, Kelsey Evans 1-2 1-1 3, Katie Mariani 0-3 3-4 3, Alexa Lipp 8-15 0-0 23, Keelie Solomon 1-7 1-2 3, Sarah Blessum 1-1 1-2 3, Steph Stremcha 2-2 0-0 4, Lena Suek 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 20-43 10-17.
Lewistown - Merrick Carpenter 0-5 2-2 2, Heidi Rettig 0-4 1-2 1, Jaime Berg 1-2 0-0 2, Kelly Richter 6-9 0-0 12, Mallory McPherson 2-4 2-2 6, Josie Sweeney 0-0 1-2 1, Lyndsi Bayless 1-6 0-1 2, Katie d'Autremont 1-7 2-2 4, Kallie Spraggins 1-1 1-2 3, Dani Phillips 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-41 9-13 33.