Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a lot of ways to win a basketball game, and it doesn't always have took look pretty. The Havre High girls basketball team didn’t play its best game of the season, but it was enough to knock off Central A rival Browning by the score of 48-33 Friday night at the HHS gymnasium. The Blue Ponies used a stingy defense and some solid play off the bench to wrap up a game that was still in doubt late in the third quarter. Browning, which is winless on the season, fell behind 13-2 in the first quarter of Friday night's game, rallied slowly, and in the second half, found itself playing right with the heavily favored Ponies. Havre led at halftime 27-18, but neither team managed to score a basket in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Shawna Bird Rattler scored with 3:43 left in the period to pull the Indians within seven points. That’s when sophomore forward Hayley Donovan, who came in off the bench, turned the game around. Following an offensive rebound, Donovan was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws. Then on the ensuing HHS possession, Donovan scored an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Ponies a 32-20 lead. Donovan scored two more baskets before leaving the floor, the last of which came at the 6:27 mark in the fourth quarter, to give Havre a 38-25 lead. “We were really pleased with the way Hayley came in and competed,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “It was nice to see her pushing some kids around inside.” Still, Browning refused to go away quietly getting back-to-back baskets from Jennifer Stine and Brittney Bird Rattler to trim the Havre advantage to 39-29 with 4:17 left in regulation. Unfortunately for Browning, the Ponies were just too much. Senior forward Steph Stremcha scored consecutive baskets, then Katie Mariani buried a trey to give Havre a 46-31 lead with just over a minute to play. Tricia Samson led the way for the Ponies with a game-high 12 points. Stremcha also had a solid game in the win with 10 points. Donovan had a stellar game with nine points, all of them coming in the second half. “I thought that we played great again on defense, holding them to 33 points, four in the first quarter and two in the third,” Kraske said. “But I didn’t think we played as well offensively as I think we are capable of playing. I thought we passed up a lot of open shots and also had some turnovers. “I thought we did a good job of getting good shots,” he added. “We just need our players to remember that they are great shooters.” Havre got off to a stellar start in the game, scoring the first 13 points. Samson scored five points in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer with 1:13 to go in the quarter to put Havre ahead 10-0. Junior forward Sarah Blessum knocked in a trey to give Havre an 18-4 lead with 7:03 left in the first half, but the Indians outscored the Ponies 14-9 to pull within nine points at halftime. The win improved the Ponies’ record to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the conference, which puts them in a tie for first place with Livingston. Havre will face Livingston on Friday night at the HHS Gymnasium with the top spot in the Central A conference on the line.