With the way the Havre High boys basketball team has been playing in recent weeks, the Blue Ponies were really hoping to grab two conference wins and to keep climbing the ranks this weekend.
But in two close matchups, the Ponies had to settle with a 1-1 split. On Friday the Central A Ponies were in Lewistown where the Golden Eagles defeated Havre 46-40. But on Saturday the Ponies returned to Havre where the Ponies defeated the visiting Butte Central Maroons 51-43 at the Havre Central gymnasium.
With the weekend split the Ponies are now 5-4 in conference play.
And after the tough loss to the Eagles on Friday, the Ponies were able to regain their composure for the Maroons at home.
“It was obviously a terrible feeling after (Friday) night’s loss,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “We felt like we could really make some noise with the seeding. But I told the kids before the game today (Saturday) that we are playing a tough Butte Central team and that I am going to find out what kind of basketball team I have tonight. Obviously at the end, I was proud of the guys I have and they really met the challenge, it was a gut check and just showed a lot about this team.”
In the first quarter both the Ponies and Maroons struggled to break the others defense.
Neither team shot the ball well to start. And after they combined fore nearly 10 first quarter turnovers, the game was tight as the Ponies held a 10-9 lead after the first eight minutes were in the books.
But in the second quarter the Ponies began settle in, as they outscored the Maroons 18-8 to take a 28-17 lead at the break. In the quarter the Ponies were 5-of-7 shooting and went 6-of-6 from the free throw line. The Maroons had just two field goals in the second quarter, but had six more turnovers.
The third quarter got a little shaky for the Ponies, but they were able to fend off the Maroons.
“We talked about no let downs,” Smith said. “We knew we needed to match the intensity in the second half.”
To start the third quarter the Maroons went on a 7-0 run. They climbed within 30-24 of the Ponies, but Anfernee Standing Rock got the Ponies back on track with six points in the last four minutes. It was big scare by the Maroons, but the Ponies handled it. And in the fourth quarter, led by Standing Rock and Logan Connor’s combined 14 points, HHS escaped with the eight-point win.
Free throws also came into play. They have cost the Ponies a game or two this season, but not on Saturday. In the game the Ponies were 21-of-25 from the line and knocked down 10-of-12 in the fourth quarter.
“I just thought we did a nice job of execution,” Smith said.
Standing Rock led the Ponies with 22 points, but Connor was right behind with 21 of his own. Ryan Myers added four and Brandon Smith added three.
The HHS defense held the Maroons to just one double digit scorer. Jonathan Richards racked up 18 points, but Andy Ritter was held to nine and Aschan Richards was held to one.
On Friday night, the Ponies lost a game they felt they could have won.
After a slow start, and just five first-quarter points, the Ponies held a three-point lead at the half. But being outscored 31-22 in the second half, the Ponies couldn’t hold on.
“It was disappointing because we felt like we had some good looks,” Smith said. “But we just didn’t knock down shots. And we knew going in that we just had to play smart defense. They are a good free-throw shooting team and we didn’t want to put them on the line, but that’s basically what it came down to at the end. We really needed our defense to step up. We played really good defense the first half, but we felt like we had some let downs in the second half.”
Connor led the Ponies with 18 and Standing Rock added 13 points. Myers, Corderro Strickland, Smith and Kafka combined for nine.
Next up for the Ponies are the Malta Mustangs. Tonight at the Havre High gymnasium in Havre, the Ponies will host the Mustangs at 7:30 p.m. in nonconference play.
Lewistown 46, Havre 40
Havre 5 13 8 14 — 40
Lewistown 7 8 14 17 — 46
Havre — Logan Connor 18, Ryan Myers 2, Cordero Strickland 3, Brandon Smith 2, Anfernee Standing Rock 13, Drew Kafka 2. Totals: 12 11-14.
Lewistown — Bo Descheemaeker 7, Keelan Phillips 5, Jorden Vinger 3, Shayne Durbin 11, Travis Gilskey 12, Greg Koch 8. Totals: 16 13-23.
Havre 51, Butte Central 43
Butte Central 9 8 12 14 – 43
Havre 10 18 8 15 – 51
Butte Central — Andy Ritter 9, Colin Hollow 5, Phil Antonioli 7, Aschan Richards 1, Keegan McCarthy 2, Jonathan Richards 18, Jake Simkins 1.
Havre — Anfernee Standing Rock 22, Logan Connor 21, Brandon Smith 3, Ryan Myers 4, Drew Kafka 1.