There is no such thing as an easy matchup at the state tournament. And in first round of play the Havre High girls basketball team found that out the hard way. At the State Class A girls basketball tournament at the Dale Berry Court in Hamilton, the Blue Ponies suffered a 56-30 loss to the No. 1 Anaconda Copperheads Thursday night. Thursday night’s game was the tournament opener for the Ponies, and that may very well have been as hard an opener as they could ask for. All the teams at the state level are tough, but facing the two-time defending Class A champions, the Ponies struggled. “Honestly they did exactly what we thought,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “They are a great team and great defensively. They are just a very good team.” The Copperheads outscored the Ponies 8-0 in the first quarter. And though the Ponies were scoreless through the first nine minutes of the game, it was their defense that kept them in it. The Ponies were very strong in their zone defense. They were quick to the ball, and contested every shot. “It was a tight game in the beginning,” Anaconda head coach Maury Cook said. “But defensively, holding them to zero was huge. And on offense our kids slowly started to pull away.” HHS was able to put up some shots, but they just weren’t able to connect. It wasn’t until the 6:50 mark in the second quarter when the Ponies finally got on the board with a Jaclyn Evans 3-pointer. Evans cut the Copperhead's lead to 8-3, but then Anaconda began to find its offense and pull away. The Ponies were just 3-of-12 from the field in the first half. In the second quarter the Copperheads outscored the Ponies 15-9 and brought their lead to 23-9 at the half. And though the Ponies were able to put up 15 points in the third quarter, in the second half the Copperheads outscored the Ponies 33-21 to maintain and extend their lead. The Ponies’ zone defense kept the game close through the first quarter, but the Copperheads began to break it down. Anaconda began to work the ball along the baseline, and once they were finally able to find some penetration against the Ponies' size down low it opened up their offense. “We got a lot of great passing out of our high post,” Cook said. “And out of that penetration to the high post we were able to get the ball back out to our shooters and underneath along the baseline.” In the first half the Copperheads shot only 26.9 percent from the field, but by the end of the game they improved to nearly 40 percent shooting after 54.5 percent in the second half. Lisa Laslovich led the Copperheads with 13 points and eight rebounds. Vanessa Jense followed with 12 points while Rachel Wagner added nine points. The Ponies on the other hand just never seemed to settle in offensively. The Copperhead defense can carry most of the credit for that, but the shots just weren’t falling for the Ponies. Cassi Darrah scored 11 points to lead the Pony offense, which shot just 28 percent on the night. Evans finished with nine points on two treys and Hayley Donovan finished with six points and seven rebounds. “We didn’t finish as well at the basket as we would have liked,” Kraske said. “Anaconda’s defense had a lot to do with that, and we didn’t have as many open looks as we thought. In the second half we went out and just had a tough time scoring.” In other first round action, Billings Central defeated Columbia Falls 64-52, while Butte Central defeated Frenchtown 49-34 and Sidney defeated Polson 44-40. And with the loss, the Ponies will now face the Polson Pirates in loser-out action today at 2. The Pirates have a little bit different style than the Copperheads, but the Ponies aren’t changing their game plan. They know what they have to do to be successful and are confident they will have a complete turnaround after Thursday’s loss. “Our kids will be fine,” Kraske said. “We will bounce back. We will take a peak at some game film and be ready to go.” Also in loser-out play, Columbia Falls will take on Frenchtown at 12:30 today And in the semifinals, Billings Central will face Butte Central at 6:30 p.m. while Sidney will face Anaconda at 8 p.m. The 2010 Class A state tournament runs through Saturday night.
Bitten: Copperheads down Ponies
Havre High girls look to rebound against Polson today
Published: Friday, March 12th, 2010
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