It took a full half for the Havre High boys basketball team to warm up, but when the Blue Ponies did they looked impressive in their tournament debut. Thursday at the CMR Fieldhouse, the No. 4 Ponies defeated the No. 5 Lewistown Golden Eagles 71-52 at the Central A tournament. And with the win in round one play, the Ponies advanced to the semifinal round, facing No.1 Browning today at 1 in Great Falls. “I was just really pleased with the overall effort,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “And it was nice to see the kids come off the bench that haven’t played a lot and contribute. That’s what it’s going to take, everybody has to make a contribution this weekend and that was great to see tonight (Thursday).” The entire Pony bench got in on the action. And coming off the bench Corderro Strickland earned three points, while Ryan Brandt earned two. Kade Barsotti also pulled in an offensive rebound for the Ponies. The first half wasn’t the greatest for the Ponies. They led 19-12 after the first quarter, but after being outscored 13-7 in the second their lead was cut to 26-23 at the half. And the key reason why the Eagles stuck around was second chance opportunities. In the first half the Ponies gave up 10 offensive boards. “I was disappointed in the first half,” Smith said. “We gave up a lot of second chance opportunities. The first game always seems like it’s the toughest because the kids are coming in with some jitters. But I thought the kids responded well and thought they did a good job.” Logan Connor kept the Ponies in front, and continually padded their lead from 3-point range. He knocked down two treys to end the first quarter, and a third to close out the second. And on a 4-of-5 showing in the third quarter, Connor helped the Ponies out to a 48-33 lead after three quarters were in the books. In the fourth quarter Connor netted one more three, his eighth of the game. He finished with a game high 31 points and shot over 57 percent from behind the arc, leading the Ponies to a first round victory. “It feels great to know we have a win on our back and to get to play in the semifinals,” Connor said. “Coach (Smith) gave me the opportunity. He told me to shoot it when I was open, he told me if they played off of me to shoot it and I took advantage and knocked a couple shots down. “Logan had the hot hand,” Smith added “And our kids did a good job of finding him.” Though Connor may have had the hot hand, both CJ Evans and Thane Gray finished with 11 points a piece. Evans also led the team with 10 rebounds. Jorden Vinger led with 22 points for the Eagles. Next in store for the Ponies are the Indians, a team that earned a regular-season sweep over HHS. “We just know that we are going to have to cut down our mistakes,” Smith said. “They are a pressure type team and they turn it up. We just have to be able to make good decisions with the ball, not let them get on their runs and not give up easy baskets. In the Central A's other first-round game Thursday, Livingston upset Belgrade 47-40. The Rangers will play Butte Central tonight in the semifinals. The Ponies and Indians will tip off today at 1 at the CMR field house. The Central A boys tournament runs through Saturday night with the top two teams advancing to nest week's Class A state tournament.
Pony boys thrash Eagles
Connor's 31 points vaults HHS into Central A semifinals
Published: Friday, February 26th, 2010
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