George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
For one shining Saturday at the Central A boys basketball tournament in Belgrade, the shots fell for the Havre Blue Ponies. But that was Saturday, and those same shots didn't go in for the Ponies in Great Falls on Monday night. Havre suffered one of its most diffi- cult shooting nights in some time as the Ponies dropped a 56-44 decision to the Butte Central Maroons in a Central A boys challenge game at the CMR Fieldhouse. With the win, the Maroons (11-10) claimed the second-place trophy in the Central A while the Ponies season ended with a 10-12 overall record. "It was a rough shooting night for sure," Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. "It's disappointing too because we came into this game feeling we had a real good chance to win. And we got really good shots both inside and out, but they just didn't fall for us and I feel like that was the difference in the game. I thought we defended them really well the entire game. We took care of the basketball too. We played well enough to win, but the shots just didn't fall for us. And the shots didn't go in early or often for the Blue Ponies, who made just 17 field goals and only went to the free-throw-line eight times, while Butte Central, which didn't shoot much better, made 21-of-23 foul shots. "As rough as it was for us shooting the ball, we still cut the lead to four in the third quarter and six in the fourth," Smith said. "But they (Maroons) were very good from the foul line. Down the stretch, we needed them to miss some free throws and they didn't do that. But there was certainly no quit in our kids" The Maroons took an early lead and Havre seemed to be playing catch up all night long. Butte Central led 15-8 going into a dismal second quarter in which the two teams combined for just 12 points. At halftime, the Maroons were ahead 22-13, and they scored 21 points, many from the charity stripe in the fourth period to put the game away. "The second quarter was a rough one for us shooting the ball," Smith said. "They are such a patient team and they execute so well that we knew we were going to have to score points tonight in order to stay with them. And that just didn't happen for us." Kaden Keto and Tucker Parman paced the Ponies with 16 and 11 points, respectively. HHS also hit four 3-pointers with four different players making outside shots. Meanwhile, the Maroons got a game-high 17 points from Josh LeProwse, including three triples. Butte Central will now move on to the Class A state tournament for the third straight year. The tournament runs March 12-15 back in Great Falls. On the flip side, HHS's season is over. But the Ponies made a strong run through the Central A tournament, especially after losing the opening game last Thursday in heartbreaking fashion. "I couldn't be more proud of this team and what they did in this tournament," Smith said. "They just never gave up, and they fought all the way to the end. We had an opportunity to play to go to state and you can't ask for any more than that."