Sometimes it isn’t how a team starts a game, but more importantly how it finishes. That was especially true for the Havre High girls basketball team which took down one of the best Class B teams in the state.
On a rare Tuesday night game for the Central A Havre Blue Ponies, HHS hosted Malta, and a M-Ette's team that brought with them an unblemished schedule at 13-0. But the Ponies played one of their better games of the season, defeating the M
-Ettes 51-42 in comeback fashion. The Ponies moved to 8-6 overall with the much-needed win, while the M-Ettes dropped to 13-1 overall.
This was a big win for the Ponies, snapping a three game losing streak, as well as avenging a loss to the M-Ettes at the beginning of the season in Malta.
“I thought that we played with a lot of confidence,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And we were fortunate enough to get the win at the end because we executed and played well. That just continues to build confidence, and we were struggling with that a little bit. Win or lose, that is almost irrelevant because we played with so much confidence. We needed play like that and the girls expected to play like that.”
At the end of the first half, the M-Ettes gained some momentum; building a solid lead the Ponies would soon overtake.
Malta led 23-20 at intermission, but jumped out to a 29-22 lead in the first three minutes of the third quarter. The Ponies did well to contain the potent Malta offense in the first half, but it finally looked like the M-Ettes were going to start rolling. But the Pony defense made some key stops down the stretch, and the Pony offense wasn’t going to be turned away, as they kept pace with M-Ettes scoring efforts.
To close out the third quarter the Ponies outscored the M-Ettes 10-4. Chanel Standing Rock hit two big buckets to lead the Ponies with four points in the quarter, and helped bring the gap to just a 33-32 Malta lead heading into the fourth and final frame.
And in the fourth quarter, Standing Rock continued to light up the scoreboard with six more points, but it was two huge 3-pointers from Brandy Lambourne that helped secure the win for the Ponies. Standing Rock hit a two-point field goal to tie the game at 36-36 with 5:25 left to play. Both teams battled back and forth, but Lambourne hit a trey late in the quarter to put the Ponies back on top 44-41. On the ensuing possession Malta turned the ball over and Lambourne hit her second consecutive triple to put HHS up 47-41 at the 1:36 mark, leaving nothing left for the Ponies to do, but to play solid defense and hit their free throws.
“I think that it showed a lot of maturity from our kids to be down,” Kraske said. “But to still battle back. I thought our kids did a nice job of understanding we weren’t going to get the lead back on one possession. We threw some defensive stuff together, we executed down the stretch on some plays we ran, and we handled Malta’s pressure. It was just a great sign of maturity and I am pleased with all of the kids.
“Coach (Kraske) is always telling us to shoot the ball when we are open,” Lambourne added. “And that went through my head when I didn’t see anybody around me, so I just shot it. We passed up some open shots early, and we were finally just able to take advantage of that.”
Lambourne finished the game with a team high 16 points, and Standing Rock followed with 14. Peyton Filius also scored six for the Ponies, while Morgan Mazurkiewicz and Neya Bischoff came off the bench and both finished with five each.
Lacey Waid didn’t score on Tuesday night, but her defensive presence off the bench was huge for HHS. And Mazurkiewicz didn’t light up the scoreboard, but she had a trey in the second quarter that stopped a Malta run and kept the Ponies within five-points. Bischoff also contributed, not only on offense, but kept the Ponies defense physical in the post. Key defense also came from Filius with the daunting task of guarding Courtney Henry, Lambourne guarding Jessie Cole, who finished with just five points, and Sammy and Jaclyn Evans who limited Kori Kindle to just four points.
“It was a total team effort,” Kraske said. “Every kid that played contributed to the win and that was key, we had a couple kids not play very much, but they contributed to the win and are crucial to our success. Our defense was key for us to maintain and play with Malta, and offensively down the stretch, that allowed us to win the game.”
HHS also faired well on the boards, finishing with 28 rebounds, including eight defensive boards in the fourth quarter. Havre finished with 18 turnovers as well, but limited themselves to just seven in the entire second half. Free throws were also key, with HHS hitting 8-of-13 and Malta hitting 7-of-15. Malta was 5-of-10 and Havre was 5-of-7 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, helping ensure the win for the Ponies.
“This was a really big win,” Lambourne said. “It helps boost our confidence back up and we needed that after losing three that was big. And knowing that Malta is ranked No. 3 in the Class B, that was big and we are all pumped for the win. It was just a good win for all of us.”
The Ponies will play two more games this weekend. Friday they will face Lewistown on the road, and Saturday the Ponies will return home to face Shelby on senior night.
Havre 51, Malta 42
Malta 6 17 10 9 – 42
Havre 8 12 12 19 – 51
Malta – Courtney Henry 16, Jessie Cole 5, Jayla Graham 2, Mercedes Stiles 5, Kori Kindle 4, Taylor Pankratz 2, Brenna King 8.
Havre – Brandy Lambourne 16, Chanal Standing Rock 14, Peyton Filius 6, Morgan Mazurkiewicz 5, Neya Bischoff 5, Jaclyn Evans 3, Sammy Evans 2.