Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
Throughout the entire first half of the season, the Havre High boys basketball team was stuck in neutral. But after notching a third consecutive victory, the team is finally moving forward. After winning back-to-back games for the first time all season, the Ponies were looking for a third-straight win Saturday against Belgrade inside the HHS gymnasium. The two Central A rivals battled back and forth for four quarters before Havre finally prevailed 54-50 in an overtime thriller. The Panthers built a 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, which turned into a 17-11 advantage after a basket by Jake Halgren, then a jump shot by Jimmy Hook with 7:19 left in the first half. Havre rallied and pulled within one point when Grayson Winsor scored with 2:25 to go in the first half, but the Panthers responded and took a 24-20 halftime lead after three free throws by Robert Heilman late in the half. It appeared early in the third quarter that the Panthers were going to run away with the game as they took a 30-22 lead, following a Halgren basket with 5:26 left in the third. But the Ponies finished the quarter on a 10-4 run, which was capped off by a Michael Hickman jump shot with three seconds left in the quarter, to trim the Belgrade lead to 34-32. Havre appeared to be in big trouble again when Hook hit a 3-pointer to put the Panthers ahead 44-39 with just 3:49 left to play. Hook also came up big minutes later with a clutch jumper that put Belgrade up 47-43 with 1:07 to go. But after a pair of free throws by Hickman trimmed the deficit to two points, Kyle Finneman made a layup with 17 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Hickman hit two free throws with 2:09 to go in overtime to put Havre ahead 50-47, but Bobby Hirsch later knocked down two clutch free throws to time the game at 50-50 with 1:27 remaining. Then, with the game on the line, the ball found its way into the hands of Havre forward Nate Christanson, who buried a baseline jump shot to give Havre a 52-50 lead ith 16 seconds left. Belgrade failed to tie the game on the ensuing possession and Hickman connected on two free throws to ice the game. “I was looking to shoot when I got the ball and it went in,” Christanson said. “I couldn’t really believe it. “This was a huge win for us,” he added. “It is our third win in a row and now we have got ourselves back on the right track.” Hickman finished the game with 22 points, 16 of them coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. Finneman pitched in with 11 points, while Christianson added 10. Hook had 17 points while Halgren added 12 points to lead the way for Belgrade. “I am just really proud of this team for the way they continued to fight,” said HHS head coach Andy Smith. “We really showed a lot of resiliency by coming back to win like that.” On Friday night, the Ponies took on the Livingston Rangers and defeated them 52-37 after playing arguably their most complete game of the season. The game was close throughout, and after Casey Bernsten of Livingston scored with 7:47 to go in the game, the Ponies' lead was just 28-27. However, the Ponies responded with a 13-0 run which included a three-point play by Tucker Parman. Parman also capped off the run with a layup at the 3:57 mark in the fourth quarter to give Havre a 41-27 lead. “We have had a lot of guys really step up big in the last few games,” Smith said. “I mean, we have a few guys that started the year playing on JV and now they are making big contributions for us.” Parman and Winsor each had 11 points to pace Havre in the win. Bernsten had 12 points to lead the Rangers. After winning their third straight game, the Ponies improved their overall record to 5-7 and are now 3-4 in the Central A. Havre will be at home again on Friday against Great Falls High, then the Ponies will travel to Great Falls to take on CMR on Saturday.