Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
For nearly three quarters, the Havre High boys basketball team played almost flawless basketball against the Butte Central Maroons Saturday night at the HHS gymnasium. But that was just a prelude to the wild and crazy fourth quarter that saw the once dominant Ponies barely hang on for a dramatic 53-50 win. Late in the third quarter, Tony Filler nailed a 3-pointer, giving Havre a 43-25 lead, its largest of the night. However, just when the Maroons seemed to be knocked out, they pulled themselves up off the mat for one big run. Butte Central’s comeback started with a trey by Casey Norbeck and a buzzer beating layup by Matt Ritter, which cut the Havre lead to 43-30 at the end of the third period. Finally seeing a small opening, the Maroons burst out of the gates in the final stanza with an 8-0 run, capped off by another basket by Ritter to trim the deficit to 43-38. Things got even tighter just minutes later as Clay McQueary got three points the old-fashioned way, followed by a pair of made free throws to pull the Maroons within two points at 47- 45. Havre responded with six unanswered points to reclaim control at 53-45 with just 1:37 remaining. But the Ponies were not out of the woods, and thanks to a number of mistakes by HHS, including two fivesecond violations, an over-and-back, two jump balls and a pair of steals by the Maroons, Butte Central had the ball with 10 seconds remaining down 53-50. But Ritter’s fall-away three at the buzzer bounced off the rim, and the Ponies could finally celebrate their hard earned three-point win. “It feels great to get a win,” Havre senior Jeremiah Moog said. “We were trying to prove a point, that we are a lot better than people think we are. It was a great way to finish off a good weekend for us.” Sophomore Michael Hickman had a strong outing for the Ponies, hitting a pair of treys on his way to a game-high 16 points. Filler pitched in with 11 points in the win and Moog added eight. Ritter led the Maroons with 15 points in the loss. Tanner Neumann scored 11 points. “We came out with a lot of intensity tonight,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “We played really well both offensively and defensively in the first half. We seemed to be a step slower in the second half and we struggled a little bit against their pressure, but we managed to hold on.” After falling behind 8-6 late in the first quarter, the Ponies went on a 16-3 run, highlighted by Filler and Hickman who each drained two threes during the run to give HHS a 24-11 lead. Eventually, Havre led 31-14 at halftime before the Maroons staged their late charge. The win against Butte Central followed another impressive victory. The Ponies went on the road to defeat conference foe Lewistown 76-66 in Lewistown Friday night. The Ponies led throughout the game, holding an edge at the end of each quarter. At halftime, the Ponies were ahead 34-27, and by the end of the third quarter, they had pushed their lead out to 55-45. In the fourth period, the Ponies and the Eagles stalemated, each scoring 21 points which gave Havre an impressive 10-point victory. “We really played well offensively,” Barnhorst said. “We only turned the ball over 10 times in the game and we had five guys that scored in double figures. The kids just played very smart and they showed a lot of maturity late in the game.” Moog was spectacular for the Ponies, falling just short of a triple-double. He scored 12 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed nine rebounds to spark HHS. Mike Sharp also had a stellar game, scoring a game-high 19 points. Chris Brandt scored 17 points in the win, while Filler and Chris Owens added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Craig Nelson notched a team-high 16 points in the loss for Lewistown. Dylan Buehler added 14 points and Evan Stokken also had 13. The weekend sweep improved the Ponies’ season record to 7-9 overall and more importantly, their Central A record to 5-4. Havre’s current four-game conference winning streak has taken the Ponies from a tie for last into third place by themselves and just a half game behind Butte Central for second. The Ponies will take a break from their conference schedule with one final nonconference game on Thursday when they travel to Class B Cut Bank.