Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
In the final game before the holiday break, the Havre High girls basketball team made sure that it gave all the Havre fans an early Christmas present. The Ponies used a strong defensive effort to knock off Class AA rival Great Falls High, 41-38, on Friday night at the HHS gymnasium. Both teams started out slowly on offense, especially the Bison, who went nearly five minutes before getting their first field goal. But after Havre took a 9-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Bison battled back behind Erika Jenkins and a trey by Brittany Kumm just before the end of the half, giving the Bison a 19-15 halftime advantage. Havre tied the game with 3:10 left in the third quarter after a layup by Katie Mariani made the score 23-23. However, a three-point play by Kezia Ford and another basket by Ford gave the Bison a 29-26 lead entering the final stanza. But Havre opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run beginning with two-point baskets by Jeanna McCann, Mariani and Tricia Samson. Then junior Sarah Blessum drained a 3-pointer to give the Ponies a 35-29 lead. Mariani made another basket and a pair of free throws which capped off a 13-2 Havre run and extended the Ponies' lead to 39-31 with 2:52 to play. However, the Bison refused to go down without a fight as Jenkins hit a jump shot to make the score 39-33, and then Kumm nailed a trey to pull the Bison within three points at 39-36 with 1:34 remaining. Samson made one-of-two free throws with 40 seconds left to give Havre a 40-36 lead, but Megan Stubbs scored to trim the lead to two points at 40-38 with 24 seconds left. Samson made one-of-two free throws again with 15 seconds left, making the score 41-38. GFH had one last chance, but Kumm missed a 3-pointer as time ran, preserverving the win for Havre. “I thought that our defense at the end of the game was really good,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We had a couple of fouls to give and Hope Hedges did a great job of going for the ball and fouling them before they could get off a shot. Then, after they started over, we did a great job of staying on them and forcing them into a contested shot.” Samson led the Ponies with 14 points in the win, while Mariani also had a solid outing with 13 points. Jenkins led the way for the Bison with 14 points. But Class AA all-state forward Kezia Ford managed just eight points in the loss. “(Ford) really hurt us last season,” Kraske said. “And we really made it a point to slow her down and Stacy Sheppard did a tremendous job of defending her all game. Slowing her down was a really big key for us.” The win improved the Ponies' record to 3-3 overall as well as 1-1 in conference play before the break. “It was a nice way to go into the Christmas break,” Kraske said. “I think that it will give the girls some confidence. We still have a lot of things we want to work on over the break and some new thing that we are going to put in and we will be ready to Butte Central and Lewistown when we get back to playing.” The Ponies will be back in action on Jan. 5 when they host Central A rival Lewistown at the HHS gymnasium.