Coming into the weekend, the Havre Blue Ponies girls basketball team knew they were facing two beatable conference opponents. And while the Ponies didn’t play a perfect weekend, they were able to find the win column.
The Central A Blue Ponies were at home for two conference games this weekend. Friday HHS hosted the Livingston Rangers and Saturday the Ponies hosted the Belgrade Panthers. HHS defeated the Rangers 65-39 in a game that showed off the Ponies' offensive potential. And Saturday, the Ponies defeated the Panthers 50-48, in a game that was heavily reliant on solid defense.
“I was pleased,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We are coming a long and are now 2-0 in the league. That is as good of start as you can get off to, and we are undefeated at home in league play. That is great because it is so hard to win on the road. It was a great weekend for out kids and I am proud of them.”
With the win on Friday, the Pony offense ran wild on the Rangers.
A lot of that credit starts with the successful pressure defense ran by the Ponies, but a lot of kids stepped up and found a way to score. HHS found ways to hit shots from outside, they worked the ball into the post, and they found ways to force turnovers and score in transition. Overall, it was just great offensive production that really showed what this young Ponies’ squad is capable of if firing on all cylinders.
After holding an 11-10 lead after the first frame, the Ponies really got things rolling.
Brandy Lambourne came out in the second quarter and scored four points off of two Panther turnovers in the first 50 seconds to give the Ponies a 15-10 lead. And from there the momentum just grew for the Ponies. The Ponies outscored the Panthers 25-13 in the second quarter and forced eight turnovers. HHS forced 18 in the first half.
In second half action, the Ponies saw more of the same success. They outscored the Rangers 29-16 and continued to find scoring from all over the floor. HHS also forced 11 more turnovers, while in the second half, Lambourne, Kaylie Gilman, Jaclyn Evans, Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Sammy Evans, Lacey Waid, Neya Bischoff and Mary Lyons all scored for the Ponies.
Sammy Evans led the Blue Ponies with 13 points in the game, while Lambourne finished with nine and Jaclyn Evans and Mazurkiewicz both finished with eight each. Chanel Standing Rock also finished with seven points, while Bischoff finished with six and Waid finished with five. Gilman, Filius and Lyons combined for nine.
“That was kind of special,” Kraske said. “It doesn’t happen all the time. Our kids got up and down and Livingston had a hard time handling our pressure. It was a great game and all the kids played great. It was a total team commitment; that is the bottom line. I was proud of the kids and it was really fun to watch.”
It was also exciting for the Ponies’ to get their first win of the season, and extra special for senior Sammy Evans who has never led the Ponies scoring efforts.
“I thought it was really exciting,” Evans said. “It is always good to get out there, get after it, execute what you practice, and get the win. I had a pretty good game I guess, this never happens. But we all played well on offense, and that is nice because you don’t have to rely on just one person. You can look to every one and know they are going to do their best.”
The offensive momentum didn’t roll over to the Ponies’ conference game against the Panthers, but it was good to see the HHS defense make a stand and keep the Ponies afloat for their second straight win.
Saturday the Ponies struggled on offense, leaving them to lean heavily on their defense to keep them in the game. But it wasn’t just the pressure defensive the Ponies have recently found success with, instead it was solid man-to-man defense that came up with key stops late in the game.
HHS held a narrow lead through the entire first half. It was a 12-6 lead after the first frame, and a 27-16 lead at intermission. But in the first half, the Ponies only knocked down nine field goals with more than 30 attempts. It was a sluggish start on the offensive side of the ball, the defense looked strong.
Giving up 18 points in the third, and 13 points in the fourth quarter may not scream shutdown defense, but late in the game when it mattered the most, the Ponies defense stepped up big time. And the majority of the points the Ponies gave up in the second half came from getting a taste of their own medicine, as the Panthers pressed HHS hard and forced turnovers and easy transition buckets.
HHS led by five points heading into the final frame and the offensive struggles continued. The Ponies knocked down just three buckets, with the remainder of their 10 points coming from the free-throw-line. Lambourne had two of the Ponies’ buckets.
But when Havre needed defense, players like Bischoff stepped up big. In the last two minutes of the game the Ponies fought off the Panthers, leading 48-45. And with 45 second remaining, Bischoff grabbed a big defensive rebound, her first big play that made a difference down the stretch. Bischoff also forced three jump balls in the final seconds as the Panthers kept going inside to the past game in an attempt to defeat the Ponies. Bischoffs third jump ball came after the Panthers Dylan Fowler knocked down a trey to bring the Ponies lead to 38-35. On Belgrade’s ensuing possession the Panthers went inside again, and waiting with a blocked shot and a jump ball was Bischoff. The Ponies got the ball and ran out the clock for the win.
“Neya (Bischoff) did a good job and that was great to see,” Kraske said. “Shoot, she came up with like three jump balls late, and just played big and physical basketball.
“It was big for us,” Bischoff added. “The whole team worked so hard and played well together. That is what brought us to a win today. We are a smaller team, so they (Belgrade) were feeding the ball inside, but I had help on the backside so I was able to get those jumps.”
On offense, Filius led with 11 points, while Lambourne added 10. Sammy Evans and Neya Bischoff both added eight each.
Thursday, the Ponies are back in action when they travel to Great Falls to face the Great Falls High Bison.
Havre 65, Livingston 39
Livingston 10 13 6 10 — 39
Havre 11 25 13 11 — 65
Livingston — Emily Fochs 4, Megan Schoenen 2, Katie Buckey 1, Macy Ricketts 4, Courtney Njardvik 9, Alyssa Cornell 4, Claire Meyer 8, Callie Ellingson 5. Totals 13 11-24 39.
Havre — Brandy Lambourne 9, Kaylie Gilman 4, Jaclyn Evans 8, Morgan Mazurkiewicz 8, Sammy Evans 13, Lacey Ward 5, Peyton Filius 2, Chanal Standing Rock 7, Neye Bischiff 6, Mary Lyons 3. Totals 26 8-17 65.
Havre 50, Belgrade 48
Belgrade 6 10 19 13 — 48
Havre 12 15 13 10 — 50
Belgrade — Annie Prickett 2, Justine Taylor 3, Holly Daninder 2, Morgan Wandler 7, Leighton Hirsch 11, Dylan Fowler 10, Tana Holliday 2, Taylor D. 11. Totals 18 9-20 48.
Havre — Brandy Lambourne 10, Jaclyn Evans 5, Sammy Evans 8, Lacey Waid 4, Peyton Filius 11, Chanal Standing Rock 4, Neya Bischoff 8. Totals 19 12-26 50.