Havre Daily News
With a little bit of unfinished business to take care of, the Havre High boys basketball team headed to Cascade to meet the Belgrade Panthers in search of that elusive berth in the Class A State Tournament.
After squandering a chance to win the Central A Divisional Tournament by losing to Butte Central 48-40, the Ponies were forced to play a challenge game against the Panthers, who beat Lewistown and Browning to win the consolation game.
By the end of Monday night's game with Belgrade, Havre left little doubt about who belonged in the state tournament. The Ponies thrashed the Panthers, 53-31.
The Ponies got off to a slow start in the game as Belgrade jumped out to a 6-2 lead.
However, the Ponies received the wake-up call and quickly responded with a 10-0 run to finish off the first quarter with a 12-6 advantage.
“We started off a little slow,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “But we were eventually able to get into a bit of a flow offensively and we began to find our rhythm.”
Indeed, the Ponies had some pep in their step as they turned a 10-0 run into a 24-4 run that went all the way into the third period.
In nearly two full quarters of play, the Panthers scored just four points, thanks in part to the Ponies' suffocating defense. Havre trailed by four when the run began, but by the time it was over the Ponies had a commanding 26-10 lead.
“They really had a hard time shooting the basketball,” Barnhorst said. “We knew coming into the game that they were probably going to have a hard time shooting the ball.
“They couldn't hit anything, and I think a lot of credit has got to go to our defense,” he added. “I mean, I am sure it wasn't all because of our defense, but I would like to think our defense definitely had something to do with it.”
Facing a 16-point deficit, the Panthers needed a spark but it was nowhere to be found. The Ponies had an answer for everything the Panthers threw at them offensively.
It didn't help that the Panthers shot a miserable 2-of-16 from the free-throw line.
Belgrade was stuck in neutral, while the Ponies were in cruise control.
“Our focus defensively was to keep Jake Allmendinger from going off on us,” Barnhorst said. “He had some big games at divisionals and we were able to do a good job on him defensively.”
By the fourth quarter, the outcome had already been decided. The Ponies rolled to an impressive win, sending them to the Class A state tournament.
“We are glad to have made it now,” Barnhorst said. “We aren't just happy to be there, but you can't win the thing if you aren't in the tournament. Now we are just going to start preparing and see what happens.”
Mike Barton paced the Havre offensive attack with a game-high 14 points. Logan Grant added 10 points. Perhaps the biggest storyline of the game for Havre was the lack of points scored by stars Jeremy Giardina and Jared Weigel. Giardina, the leading scorer in the conference, didn't score at all in the game, but made his presence felt with a number of crisp passes that set up his teammates for easy baskets. Weigel, who was plagued by flu-like symptoms, had just five points.
Allmendinger was the only Panther in double figures, with 10 points in the loss.
“Mike stepped up and really played well for us tonight, and really so did Jeremy, even though he didn't score,” Barnhorst said. “It was nice to see that we could win a game without having to depend on Jeremy and Jared to carry the load. I think it will give the kids confidence that those two guys don't have to do it all.”
The Ponies will meet highly touted Glendive in the opening round of the state tournament at 2 p.m. Thursday in Bozeman.
“I am just so proud of this team,” Barnhorst said. “They had to go through a lot this weekend with all the traveling and everything else, and they never complained. They just sucked it up and kept playing as hard as they could. All the kids stepped up and played well for us when we needed them to. They showed a lot of heart and I am extremely proud.”
Havre 53, Belgrade 31
Belgrade 6 4 12 9 - 31
Havre 12 10 15 16 - 53
BELGRADE (7-15) - Kolten Knatterud 0 1-2 1, Garrett Schultz 0 0-0 0, Rowdy Peuse 0 0-0 0, Ben Ward 2 0-4 5, John Brewer 1 1-2 3, Presten Swenson 0 0-0 0, Zach Halgren 4 0-5 8, Jake Allmendinger 5 0-2 10, Kole Mickolio 2 0-1 4. Totals: 14 2-16 31.
HAVRE (14-7) - Tanner Donovan 1 2-2 4, Jeremiah Moog 1 1-4 3, Scott Miller 1 1-2 4, Jeremy Giardina 0 0-0 0, Chris Brandt 0 2-2 2, Jared Weigel 2 1-2 5, Logan Grant 3 2-3 10, Mike Sharp 0 0-0 0, Andy Pester 1 0-0 2, Tanner Veis 2 5-9 9, Mike Barton 6 2-3 14. Totals: 17 16-29 53. 3-point goals - Grant 2, Miller, Ward. Total fouls - Bel 25, Hav 16. Fouled out - none.