George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the years, Havre High School has produced some fine basketball players. There is no arguing that. And one of the things that has been great about Havre in recent years thanks to the hard work and dedication of many, is that HHS fans get a chance to be nostalgic once a year and see some of the former Blue Pony graduates one more time. That's because the Havre Public Schools Education Foundation has been putting on an alumni basketball game to help raise money for the foundation, and to also give an opportunity for former HHS alumni to get together and get out on the court for a little fun. On Friday night, at the Havre Middle School gymnasium, the 4th Annual HPSEF Alumni Basketball Games will be held, and there will be plenty for basketball fans to see and cheer about. And this year's games will showcase something special. Not only will there be plenty of former male and female athletes from past Havre High days on hand to play in the games, but the boys game is scheduled to pit a pair of former Ponies against each other on the bench. Marc Mariani and Gary Wagner played basketball, football and tennis together at HHS but have now gone on to their respective colleges for football. Everyone has witnessed Mariani's record-setting junior season for the University of Montana, where he was a former walkon, in which he racked up the second-best receiving season in Grizzly history and helped UM to a runner- up finish in the FCS championship game last Friday night in Chattanooga, Tenn. Meanwhile, Wagner is at famed Carroll College, already has two NAIA championship rings, and started the 2008 season as the Saints starting quarterback before a leg injury abruptly cut short his junior season. Wagner was off to a blazing start as the Saints' signalcaller, leading Carroll to a season-opening win at highly-regarded Azusa Pacific back in August. Now he is working on rehabbing his injury and is expected to be back in the huddle next season for the high-powered Saints. But once upon a time, the duo were teammates on the hardwood too, and now they will get a chance to coach against each other on Friday night in the alumni game and that should make for plenty of fun, excitement and entertainment at HMS. There will also be plenty of former HHS standouts in the games as well. Confirmed players on the girls side include Katie (Miller) Wirtzberger, Katie Mariani and Hanna Wells to name a few. On the boys side, fans can watch former HHS stars like Coda Tchida and Kyle Finneman two current Montana State University-Northern football players, Tony Filler, Patch Wirtzberger, Danny Wirtzberger, a current coach at MSU-N, Scott Miller, Billy Wagner Jason Mudrow and Kyle Sheppard among others. Of course the game is all about fun and charity and many people have donated their time and put in hard work to organize the event. The referees for the game will be Travis Abdallah, Rob Gaskill and Nate Molstad and Tammy Boles will run the clock. The 4th Annual HPSEF Alumni Games begin Friday night at 7 p.m. at HMS with entrance fees set at $5 for adults and $3 for students.