Despite a rocky start, the Havre High boys basketball team was able to grab a second conference win of the weekend.
After defeating the Belgrade Panthers on Friday night, the Central A Blue Ponies hosted the Livingston Rangers at the Havre High gymnasium on Saturday. And in the conference matchup, the Ponies grabbed the 56-54 victory.
With the second win of the weekend, the Ponies improved to 4-3 in the conference and 5-6 overall.
“We struggled to start,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “Giving up 17 in the first quarter, but we settled down. The game earlier in the year was the same way, we didn’t expect anything different. They have a good team, are well coached, defended well and they are patient on offense. They didn’t take many bad shots, and they make you work.”
The first quarter didn’t look good for the Ponies. The Rangers jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first four minutes of play. And at the end of the first eight minutes, the Rangers held a 17-10 lead. In the first quarter the Ponies had five turnovers and went 3-for-11 shooting.
But in the second quarter, things went better for the Ponies, as they outscored the Rangers 15-8 to tie the game at 25-25 heading into the half. Drew Kafka’s six second-quarter points helped lead the way for the Ponies.
While the Ponies were sticking with the Rangers, the HHS offense never really got anything going. They were however, able to score 12 in the third quarter and 19 in the fourth to edge the Rangers by just two points.
“It was just one of those games where offensively we didn’t knock down the open looks,” Smith said. “But we still did a nice job of finding the open guy.”
While the Pony offense was somewhat shaky at times, the Pony defense really stepped up again. In the last 2:30 of the fourth quarter, with the Ponies trailing by two points, the HHS defense forced the Rangers to go 1-of-5 from the field. The Ponies also had two blocked shots late in the fourth.
“We just didn’t feel like our weekend would be complete if we didn’t get this win,” Smith said. “After playing so well last night (Friday), for us to have a successful weekend we needed this win tonight (Saturday). We just found a way to grind it out and that was key.
“This win felt good,” Ryan Myers said. “We have played in some tight games and it’s finally starting to change in our favor. I like that we are winning now, we are closing out, finishing and hopefully we can keep it up.”
HHS also went 5-of-6 from the free-throw-line in the fourth quarter to help ensure the win. And leading the way offensively was Anfernee Standing Rock with 15 points, with Logan Connor adding 13. Ryan Brandt had another good outing with 12 points as did Drew Kafka with 11. Ryan Myers added three points and Brandon Smith added two.
Havre will face Great Falls High in Great Falls on Thursday night and will host CMR on Saturday.
Havre 56, Livingston 54
Havre 10 15 12 19 – 56
Livingston 17 8 12 17 – 54
Havre — Anfernee Standing Rock 15, Drew Kafka 11, Brandon Smith 2, Ryan Brandt 12, Ryan Myers 3, Logan Connor 13.
Livingston — Zach Schweigert 10, Braeden Greathouse 8, Decker Willson 12, Landon Willyerd 9, Paul Meyer 4, Dallas Lussier 5, Marcus Payne.