Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
In a game it desperately needed to win, the Havre High boys basketball did everything possible, to prevent yet another difficult loss. Entering Tuesday night's game with Malta, the Blue Ponies had lost five consecutive games and four of their last five games in Central A Conference. However, the Ponies put an abrupt halt to their lengthy losing skid by defeating interclass rival Malta 47-44 inside the HHS gymnasium Tuesday night. The Ponies led by as many as seven points with 7:18 left to go in the fourth quarter following a jumper by Nate Christianson. However, Malta got baskets from Tom Christofferson and Lance Webb to trim the Havre lead to 39-34 with 3:53 remaining in regulation. However, after the two teams exchanged baskets the score was 42-37 in favor of Havre when Kyle Finneman drilled a pair of free throws to give the Ponies a 44-37 edge with 1:27 to go. Malta refused to buckle though, as Webb buried a 3-pointer with 1:18 remaining. Then moments later, Kevin Amestoy hit two free throws to shrink the Havre lead to 44-42. Michael Hickman and Finneman both hit one free throw a piece to make the score 46-42, a long 2-pointer by Amestoy got Malta back within two points at 46-44 with 20 seconds to go. Following a Havre free throw by Christianson, the Mustangs had one last chance, but Amestoy couldn’t get a 3-pointer to go at the buzzer, allowing Havre to hang on for the win. “I am just so happy for the kids,” HHS head coach Andy Smith said. “I think that this win will take a huge weight off their shoulders and hopefully they can feel what it’s like to win again, then carry that feeling with them during the rest of the season.” In the first quarter, the Ponies came out determined, scoring the first nine points of the game, as they grabbed a 14-8 lead. The Ponies' lead was pushed to eight points after a 2-pointer by Christianson made the score 16-8, then after Finneman and Handley traded baskets late in the first half the Ponies took a four-point halftime lead, 23-19. HHS got a basket and a free throw from Finneman to open the third quarter, giving the Ponies a 26-19 lead its biggest of the second half. But Amestoy and Webb kept the Mustangs within striking distance, after combining for three 3-pointers in the quarter to make the score 33-30, only to watch Christianson bury 2-pointer with 11 seconds left in the third to give HHS a 35-30 lead going into the final period. “They hit some big shots to stay in the game,” Smith said. “But we were able to hit some free throws and stop them defensively to put the game away.” Finneman sparked the Ponies to victory with a team-high 12 points, while Hickman and Christianson were also big contributors for the Ponies, as they each posted 10 points in the win. Christofferson had 10 points to lead the way for the Mustangs. Webb also buried three trey's on his way to 10 points in a losing effort. The win over Malta improved the Ponies’ record to 3-7 overall and 1-4 in conference play. However, they will have a chance to improve on their conference record this weekend when they play host to a pair of Central A conference rivals. The Ponies will host Livingston on Friday night inside the HHS gymnasium. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. Then on Saturday, they will host Belgrade at 5 p.m.