The Havre High boys basketball team was hoping its narrow loss to Great Falls on Monday was the turning point in the season. And after one of their better games of the year, the Blue Ponies still believe that to be true.
Friday at the Havre High gymnasium, the Central A Ponies defeated the Belgrade Panthers 57-51 in conference play.
Overall, the Ponies played very well on both sides of the ball. But the inability to knock down fourth-quarter free throws, and a Panther offense that got hot late made the game closer than it should have been.
Going into the fourth quarter the Ponies held a 38-26 lead. And to start the fourth, the Ponies climbed to a 42-28 lead. But as the quarter progressed, the Panthers moved closer and closer to the Ponies. By the four-minute mark the Panthers moved within 10, and by the one minute mark the Panthers were within four.
In the fourth quarter the Ponies went 5-of-10 from the free-throw-line, while the Panthers knocked down 5-fo-6. Belgrade also outscored the Ponies 25-19 in the fourth quarter with four of their seven 3-pointers.
“That was by far our best game,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith. “They (Belgrade) made it close at the end, but for those first three quarter we held them to 26 points. And for a team as offensively as good as they are, I thought the kids played the best three quarters of defense all year. We gave them a chance to get back in it, but other than that I was glad to see the kids didn’t panic and we were able to keep the lead. That showed a lot of maturity in our team. That was probably our biggest win this year.”
The Pony defense held the Panthers to just 10 points in the first quarter, nine in the second and seven in the third before giving up the big fourth.
“As a team our defense has really worked hard to get better in practice,” Anfernee Standing Rock said. “It starts with defense like coach says, and that’s what we really wanted to focus on.”
But the HHS offense did their part as well.
The Ponies have looked for an even offense all year long, and finally got what they wanted. Standing Rock led all scorers with 24 points and Ryan Myers added nine. Ryand Brandt also added eight.
“It’s very important for the whole team to pitch in because when we get more contributions,” Standing Rock said. “We score more and get our confidence up.
“They beat us handedly the first game of the year,” Smith added, “But looking at that, to where we are now, we feel like we are progressing and moving towards the direction we need to go.”
Havre also took on the Livingston Rangers on Saturday at home. For more HHS coverage, see Page B2.
Havre 57, Belgrade 51
Belgrade 10 9 7 25 — 51
Havre 8 14 16 19 — 57
Belgrade — Ty Diebold 1, Talon Taylor 14, Andrew Elliott 10, Malachi Butl 10, Jay Reichert 2, Corben Schedel 3, Kade Page 11. Totals: 19 6-10.
Havre — Logan Connor 5, Ryan Myers 9, Ryan Brandt 8, Corderro Strickland 1, Brandon Smith 2, Anfernee Standing Rock 24, Andrew Kafka 8. Totals: 20 13-22.