Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
Its not everyday when the Havre High boys basketball team has a chance to knock off Class AA rival CMR. But on Thursday night at the HHS gymnasium, the Blue Ponies were in prime position to pull off the upset. However, just when it seemed as though the Ponies had the Rustlers backed into a corner, CMR responded with a 15-2 run that dashed any hopes of an HHS upset. And when it was all said and done, the Rustlers ended up leaving Havre with a narrow 46-39 victory. “I think that it came down to the way that we executed our offense late in the game,” HHS head coach Andy Smith said. “We had spurts in the game when we ran our offense really well, but we also had other times where we simply failed to execute.” The Ponies did put together a strong defensive effort by holding the Rustlers to just 46 points. And CMR star forward Tanner Bleskin finished the game with a measly five points. “I thought that our defense was really what kept us in the game,” Smith said. I thought we ran our zone defense better than we have all season and I thought that we did a great job of forcing them into some turnovers with our press. So I was really pleased with the effort the kids put out on the defensive end of the floor.” Although Havre was able to hold Bleskin in check throughout the game, other CMR players such as Josh Huestis stepped up to fill the void. Huestis poured in a team-high 14 points to lead the way for the Rustlers. Seven of his 14 points came in the fourth quarter. Jordan Harper pitched in with 10 points and Alex Waltari finished the game with eight points, highlighted by a pair of crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Tony Filler was the high scorer for the Ponies, as he connected on three treys on his way to a game-high 18 points. Michael Hickman also had another strong outing for Havre with 10 points in the loss. “I thought that both Tony and Michael played very well for us tonight,” Smith said. “I really thought that they were a big reason why we even had a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.” After grabbing a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Rustlers extended their advantage to 15-9 early in the second after a trey by Harper. Following the 3-poiner by Harper, the Ponies responded with a basket by Hickman, a trey by Filler and two free throws by Kyle Finneman that trimmed the CMR deficit to 17-16 at halftime. The Ponies grabbed their first lead of the game just 44 seconds into the third quarter, after a basket by Jason Mudrow. After that sequence, the lead changed hands four times before Filler buried a 3-pointer while the clock expired on the third quarter, giving the Ponies a 29-28 edge. The two teams traded baskets to open the final stanza, but Filler cashed in on a lay-up to put the Ponies up 33-30. Just seconds later Filler hit a free throw that gave Havre its largest lead of the night at 34-30 with 6:46 left in the game. But after a basket by Huestis and a 3-pointer by Waltari the game was suddenly tied at 35-35. Then Huestis hit another basket, followed by another trey by Waltari, which capped off a 10-1 run that gave the Rustlers a 40-35 lead with just 4:04 to go. Havre made just one more field goal in the game, while the Rustlers put the game away from the free throw line. “I think the most important thing is that we were able to improve in certain areas tonight,” Smith said. “We still need to execute better offensively and do a better job of taking care of the basketball, but we gave ourselves a chance to win tonight, we just didn’t capitalize on it.” The Ponies (1-4) will be in action again tonight when they head to Great Falls, to take on the Great Falls High Bison. The game will tip-off at 7 pm inside the Swarthout Fieldhouse.