A big run by the Great Falls High Bison kept the Havre High Blue Ponies at bay.
Thursday night in Great Falls, the Class AA Bison defeated the Central A Ponies 69-55 in nonconference play. And with the loss, the Ponies dropped to 5-6 overall and remained 4-3 in conference.
At the halfway point the Ponies trailed by just one point, trailing 21-20. And that was after overcoming a 14-7 deficit in the first eight minutes.
But in the third quarter the Bison gained some separation, coming out of the lockerroom hot. GFH hit some big 3-pointers right out of the gate while the Ponies' offense struggled. In the third quarter the Bison outscored the Ponies 24-8.
“They got in transition and got some good looks,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “And we weren’t as patient as we should have been in that quarter. It’s just a learning experience, you can’t get it all back right away, they went on the run and we needed to just slow down and start chipping away.”
The Ponies settled back down and put up 27 points in the fourth quarter, but the deficit was just too much to overcome as the Ponies suffered a 14-point loss to the secon-ranked Bison. GFH had already retained the famed Ole' Goat trophy for yet another year after beating the Ponies last Monday in Havre.
Anfernee Standing Rock led the Ponies with 25 points, while Logan Connor added 15. Drew Kafka totaled five points, and Brandon Smith, Corderro Strickland, Kade Barsotti and Ryan Brandt all had two points each.
On Saturday, HHS will return home to face the always tough Class AA CMR Rustlers at 5 p.m.
The first time around the Ponies suffered a 69-52 loss in Great Falls after the Rustlers jumped out to a 22-13 lead. A 21-point third quarter also helped propel the Rustlers past the Ponies.
Facing another Class AA opponent, the Ponies are hoping to compete. They know how tough the talented Ruslters can be even without Josh Huestis, and hope to just keep improving before the post season rolls around.
“We just want to come out and compete and execute defensively,” Smith said. “We want to do the little things to prepare us for the end of the year. These games are going to make us tougher and they make us speed up another level. They are solid all the way through and just make us play better. Every screen has to be set better, every pass has to be crisp and we just have to work hard.”
Great Falls 69, Havre 55
GFH 14 7 24 24 — 69
HHS 7 13 8 27 — 55
Great Falls — Santino Williams 16, Matt Schmittz 15, Trey Skunkcap 18, Shyke Smalls 10.
Havre — Anfernee Standing Rock 25, Logan Connor 15, Drew Kafka 5, Brandon Smith 2, Corderro Strickland 2, Kade Barsotti 2, Ryan Brandt 2, Ryan Myers 2.