If there was ever a time for the Havre High boys basketball team to have its best offensive game of the season, it was Saturday night in Browning.
The Central A Blue Ponies were on the road where they faced the conference rival Browning Indians in their last game of the season. And coming away with the huge victory, the Ponies defeated the Indians 75-73.
“I felt good going into the game,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “I thought we had a good week of practice and we were really focused all week. We knew how they hurt us before, with turnovers and transition baskets. They hurt us with their press and they beat us by 22, but we had a whole week to get ready for them and I credit the kids with their focus and preparation.”
The first time around the Indians defeated the Ponies by 22 points at home. But knowing just what to do differently as well what not to do, the Ponies overcame the always tough Indians.
HHS entered the contest with a 5-4 conference record and a lot on the line. A win meant the No. 2 seed in the conference and first round bye at the divisional tournament. But a loss would have resulted in the Ponies slipping to the No. 4 seed and most likely having to face Belgrade in the opening round. Havre did just what it needed too to put themselves in a good position, improving to 6-4 and earning that coveted first round bye.
The contest between the Indians and Ponies was tight all they way through.
Both teams traded off runs of points and exchanged the lead from start to finish. The game was locked in an 18-18 tie after the first quarter and the Ponies held the 35-30 lead at the half. But the Indians battled back with a 21-16 third quarter lock the game up in yet another tie, this time 51-51. But in the fourth quarter HHS edged out the Indians 24-22 to grabe the narrow win.
There wasn’t a whole lot of defense on Saturday. The Ponies allowed 73 points, their highest of the season. But HHS also scored 75 points of their own, their highest offensive game of the year as well. And in the game, the Blue Ponies shot an astounding 70 percent form the field as well as 6-of-14 from three-point range.
Anfernee Standing Rock led the offense with a 12-of-16 performance and 28 points. And Logan Connor added his 20 in another outstanding performance. Both Connor and Standing Rock executed very well and found themselves getting to the whole with good dribble penetration. Brandon Smith also added 13 points and Cordero Strickland added eight. Strickland’s points came in the paint on the press break.
“We knew what was on the line,” Smith said. “Getting the No. 2 seed and a first round bye at the divisional tournament is huge. Winning this game was basically winning a game at the tournament; we’ve already got a win already that’s how we are looking at it. Before the game even started our divisional tournament started.”
The Ponies will attend the Central A tournament in Belgrade next weekend as they prepare for a first round bye. HHS will face the winner of Browning and Livingston in semifinal action.
Havre 75, Browning 73
Havre 18 17 16 24 — 75
Browning 18 12 21 22 — 73
Havre — Logan Conner 20, Ryan Brandt 3, Cordero Strickland 8, Brandon Smith 13, Anthony Standing Rock 28, Drew Kafka 3. Totals 29 11-16.
Browning — Kirk Redcrow 6, John Skunkcap 1, John Hall 16, Jay Bird 2, Josiah Davis 16, Charles Oldchief 15, D.J. Lazyboy 5, Jaylen Croff 2, Cliff Ollinger 10. Totals: 29 10-18.