Another slow start was the demise for the Havre High girls basketball team.
Thursday night at the Havre High gymnasium the Central A Blue Ponies suffered a non-conference loss, falling to the Class AA Great Falls Bison 51-39. With the loss the Ponies remain 2-5 in the conference, but dropped to 3-8 overall.
And for the Bison, they are very happy to grab the non-conference win, as they have only two wins on the season improving to 2-9. Both wins came at the hands of HHS, one in Great Falls and now one in Havre.
“It’s not like we are lighting the world on fire either,” Great Falls High head coach Gregg Dart said. “So every win is important to build some confidence. It was important to get off to a good start, it’s always tough to play on the road and I think that first quarter was key. We played pressure defense, forced some turnovers and our girls played with a lot of confidence tonight.”
A big first quarter by the Bison was key to the Ponies' loss.
GFH jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first eight minutes. And the Ponies were 0-of-6 shooting and committed 11 turnovers. The Ponies three first quarter points came by free throws by Kassala Holdsclaw and Paighton Gilman.
“We have to do a better job of coming out and being ready right off the bat,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “That responsibility falls on the coaching staff and I accept that responsibility. However, I was totally pleased with our second half effort, I think our kids battled and played hard. We really got ourselves in position to get back into the game and I felt it was respectable. Our kids battled.”
HHS did put up nine points in the second frame while holding the Bison to just seven, but the Ponies did a much better job in the second half.
In the third quarter the Bison outscored the Ponies 12-7, but HHS had just five turnovers, and did a much better job on the boards with five. In the fourth quarter, the Ponies outscored the Bison 20-11. And while Havre had just three field goals, the Ponies went 12-of-17 from the free-throw-line. Peyton Filius led the surge with six fourth quarter points. GFH knocked down just four field goals in the fourth quarter.
Overall, Filius led the Ponies with 11 points, while Paighton Gilman added nine and Jaclyn Evans added eight. Holdsclaw also added six points.
It was a tough loss for Havre, but the Ponies are keeping the game in perspective, realizing it doesn’t hurt their conference standings. And if Havre can continue to improve, that’s all that matters.
“Our kids are preparing and still practicing hard,” Kraske said. “It’s just a time where we are going through some growing pains still and with any luck at all we can continue to grind it out and play our best basketball at the end of February. I am happy with our kids, they are playing hard.”
On Saturday the Ponies will return to the court to face another touch Class AA squad in the CMR Rustlers. The first time around the Ponies fell to CMR 62-21 at the HHS gymnasium.
What makes the Rustlers so tough is their size and pure athleticism at every position. And if the Ponies want to get a different result than the first meeting they have to get off to a better start. In the first meeting the Rustlers jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter start with a very tough full court press.
“They are a very good team,” Kraske said. “We’ve got nothing to lose, we need to go down and play our best and live with the results. We are looking to have that mindset and not worry about it.”
HHS will face CMR in Great Falls on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Great Falls 51, Havre 39
GFH 21 7 12 11 — 51
HHS 3 9 7 20 — 39
Great Falls — Abby Roberts 15, Katie Dolan 9, Macaulea Romsa 5, Callee Remsen 16, Maryglen Vielleux 1, Jordan Johnson 5.
Havre — Jaclyn Evans 8, Kassala Holdsclaw 6, Sadie Seidel 4, Peyton Filius 11, Christina Mack 1, Paighton Gilman 9.