Having to wait an extra week to play the first game of the season couldn’t have been easy for the Havre High boys basketball team. But having to then open the season against a pair of Central A rivals, on the road was even more of a chore.
And that’s what makes HHS’s weekend split with Belgrade and Livingston so impressive. The Ponies faltered against the Panthers Friday night in Belgrade, losing 69-52, but rebounded nicely and took care of the Rangers, 58-52 Saturday in Livingston.
Against Belgrade, the start of the game cost the Ponies dearly. The Panthers came out on fire and outscored HHS 19-4 in the first eight minutes. The Ponies wound up trailing 28-14 at halftime, and while they played much better in the second half, a 32-point fourth quarter by the Panthers ended Havre’s chances of a comeback.
In the season-opening loss, Anfernee Standing Rock paced the Ponies with a game-high 19 points. Junior Logan Connor chipped in with 14 points, while Brandon Smith helped out with three 3-pointers and nine total points.
But as tough as Friday’s loss to the Panthers was, Havre showed true heart by turning around and beating Livingston on the road on Saturday.
The Ponies reversed their fortunes by getting off to a good start against the Rangers and found themselves leading 34-33 at intermission. The two teams then locked into a defensive battle in the second half, one that the Ponies found a way to come out ahead in and earn their first victory of the season.
Against the Rangers, Connor was brilliant, scoring a game-high 26 points, while Standing Rock added 18 points and Drew Kafka paced the Ponies on the boards with eight.
The weekend split already puts Havre (1-1) right in the thick of the Central A boys race in a season when the league looks to be pretty wide open.
The Ponies return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Great Falls to take on the three-time defending Class AA state champion CMR Rustlers.
Belgrade 69, Havre 52
Havre 4 11 17 20 — 52
Belgrade 19 9 9 32 — 69
Havre — Logan Connor 14, Ryan Myers 2, Ryan Brandt 2, Corderro Strickland 3, Brandon Smith 9, Anfernee Standing Rock 19, Andrew Kafka 3. Totals: 19 9-14 52.
Belgrade — Ty Diebold 17, Chris Gilbreath 2, Talon Taylor 6, Andrew Elliott 12, Malachi Buti 16, Corben Schedel 3, Kade Page 13. Totals: 25 13-21 69.
Havre 58, Livingston 52
Havre 17 17 13 11 — 58
Livingston 11 22 11 8 — 52
Havre — Logan Connor 26, Ryan Myers 2, Corderro Strickland 2, Brandon Smith 4, Anfernee Standing Rock 18, Drew Kafka 6.
Livingston — Zach Schweigert 5, Braeden Greathouse 2, Kevin Kokot 3, Landon Willyerd 13, Paul Meyer 2, Andrew Holm 6, Dallase Lussier 5, Marcus Payne 16.