Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Early in the season, the Havre High girls basketball team has had bouts of inconsistency. And on a critical two-game road trip, those inconsistencies came back to bite the Blue Ponies. Even though the Ponies didn’t play their best basketball, they still split the two conference games this weekend, losing in Livingston 47-39 on Friday night, followed by a 69-40 road win over Belgrade on Saturday afternoon. “I think that it's tough to win on the road in any league and our league is no different,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “It was still a little disappointing because we could have played better, but we are still happy that we won one of those games.” In the first game of the two-game road trip, the Ponies met Central A rival Livingston, which defeated the Ponies in the Central A divisional championship game last season. Livingston controlled the game throughout much of the first three quarters, leading 12-8 at the end of the first quarter, only to increase that to a 22-14 at the end of the half and 35-25 going into the fourth quarter. But the Ponies refused to give up, battling back to within two points late in the fourth quarter. Havre even had a chance to tie the game, but Sarah Blessum missed consecutive free throws and the Rangers held on the for the eight-point victory. Steph Stremcha had a stellar game in the loss for the Ponies, posting a game-high 21 points. Katie Mariani was also solid with eight points in the loss. Sage Indendi was the high scorer for the Rangers with 12 points, followed by McKenzie Scofield, who notched 11 points. “Going into the fourth quarter down by more than 10 and we were able to cut it down to 2 points. That’s our mentality,” Kraske said. “We never think we are out of a game. We just keep fighting back and fighting back. We just have to learn that we can’t keep letting ourselves get behind as much going into the final eight minutes.” On Saturday, the Ponies traveled to Belgrade and seemingly overnight became a completely different team. HHS flew out of the gates, and thanks to some stellar first-quarter shooting, took a 23-8 lead. In the second quarter, it was the HHS defense that was impressive, holding the Panthers to just five points in the eight-minute period to give the Ponies a 33-13 halftime advantage. The Ponies didn’t let up in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 36-27 to wrap up a 29-point victory. "If we can shoot the ball well, we are going to have rely on our defense right now, and at the end of games you need to have the other teams miss some free throws and right now our free throw shooting needs improvement,” Kraske explained. “It's all about confidence and once the kids figure that out we will be a tough team to beat. I think that the Belgrade was a step in the right direction. Defensively we are pretty fundamentally sound, and the kids just play so hard that it is going to keep us in a lot of games.” Mariani had her best offensive outing of the season, notching a game-high 16 points in the win. Stremcha also contributed with 11 points, while Tricia Samson pitched in with 10 points. No Belgrade player managed to score in double figures. The Ponies (2-2) will resume play on Thursday night when they take on CMR in Great Falls. Then on Friday night they will play host to Great Falls High at the HHS gymnasium.