BUTTE — After a first-round loss to Billings Central at the Class A state girls basketball tournament, the Havre High girls basketball team really put the emphasis on coming out and playing better in their second time out. The Blue Ponies did just that, as they came out and battled to the very last second.
But unfortunately for the Ponies, even with a chance to tie or win the game at the end of regulation, their season ended a little sooner than planned.
But the Ponies went out knowing they battled hard.
With 12 seconds on the clock, Anna Digiallonardo of Polson hit a bonus foul shot to give the Pirates a 46-44 lead. On the Ponies’ ensuing possession, Peyton Filius dribbled the length of the floor, cutting past defenders and dishing the ball to Sammy Evans who was cutting baseline. Evans brought in the pass cleanly, and put up short, leaning shot with a defender in her face. The future of the Ponies season was hanging in the balance, and as the ball rolled around the rim from one side to the other, the Ponies season ended with the shot rimming out at the final buzzer.
“We made it to state,” Evans said after the tough loss. “And that is more than most teams get to say. And we came a really long way this season. At the beginning of the season our team was young, but by the end of the season we weren’t playing like a young team at all. We played mature and got what we could get done this weekend.
“I am really going miss playing with everybody,” Fellow senior Jaclyn Evans added. “They are my best friends. But we all played well and I know that everybody really tried, it is just going to suck not playing with them anymore.”
Defense was huge for the Ponies on Friday, as they played extremely, fast, active and physical from start to finish.
In the first quarter the Ponies allowed just 11 points, and in the first half, they allowed just 17, as the Blue Ponies worked their way into a 23-17 lead at the break. In the first two frames, the Ponies defense grabbed 11 steals, as they forced the Pirates into 14 total turnovers. Jaclyn Evans had three of those first half steals. HHS also kept the Pirates to 41 percent from the field.
But the Ponies’ offense also got off to a very hot start against a tough Pirates defense that came out in a full court press from the opening whistle.
HHS hit three of their first six shots in the opening four minutes of play, including a trey by Chanal Standing Rock and Brandy Lambourne, to take an 8-6 lead. From then on, the Ponies offenense continued to play well in the first half, as Jaclyn Evans even knocked down two three-pointers in the second frame, her first treys of the season after converting to a post player. The Ponies shot 57 percent form the field in the first half, with Jaclyn Evans and Standing Rock combining for 12 pionts.
“I was open so I just shot it,” Jaclyn Evans said. “And I don’t know, I just kept making them. But I didn’t want to overshoot, in case they were lucky, but I also knew I wanted to keep shooting because I wanted to win this game.”
But when the second half rolled around, the Ponies offense cooled off quite a bit, but that was also due to the Polson defense that continued to play well.
HHS was outscored 17-10 in the third quarter and 12-11 in the fourth. The Ponies also turned the ball over 11 times in the second half, finishing with 24 turnovers as they finished the game shooting just 39 percent from the field on the game.
And while the Ponies’ defense also continued to play well through the second half, it was the Pirates’ height and skill that took over in the paint.
Riley Kenney and Heidi Rausch stepped up and led the Pirates with 15 and 16 points respectively. They combined for just 10 in the first half, before finding a way to beat the HHS defense and convert numerous shots inside.
“We work on defense a lot in practice and we just really wanted to come in and execute,” Brandy Lambourne said. It was tough (playing a team with two post girls), but we had to try and push through it.
“It was kind of hard because their height,” Sammy Evans said after battling in the paint all season long, “But it wasn’t too bad because I have had that problem all year. We were just trying to play physical and hope the refs weren’t’ going to call it.”
The Pirates did go to the line 28 times, while the Ponies made just 14 trips to the foul line.
Jaclyn Evans led the Ponies with 11 points, while Standing Rock kicked in 10 of her own. Lambourne also finished with eight, while Sammy Evans finished with six points.
It was a tough loss for the Ponies, especially because they battled all season long to get to that point. And they didn’t quit, as they also battled the Pirates to the final buzzer in hopes of keeping their season alive. But getting to state, and finishing with an overall record of 11-9.
“It was tough because we were all really confident that we were going to win that game,” Jaclyn Evans said. “We all said we could feel it.”
Polson 46, Havre 44 (lo)
Polson 11 6 17 12 — 46
Havre 12 11 10 11 — 44
POLSON (17-5) — Mackenzie Banner 2-2 1-1 5, Mariah Hamel 0-5 1-4 1, Anna DiGiallonardo 1-4 2-4 4, Riley Kenney 3-5 9-10 15, Heidi Rausch 7-10 2-7 16, Macall Banner 1-4 1-2 3, Jordan Quinn 0-0 0-0 0, Hallie Hovenkotter 1-1 0-0 2, Shelbi Mallon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-31 16-28 46.
HAVRE (12-9) — Brandy Lambourne 3-6 1-2 8, Jaclyn Evans 4-7 0-2 11, Sammy Evans 3-6 0-2 6, Peyton Filius 0-4 2-5 2, Chanal Standing Rock 4-7 0-0 10, Morgan Mazurkiewicz 0-7 2-2 2, Lacey Waid 1-2 1-2 3, Neya Bischoff 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 16-41 6-15 44.
3-pointers — Polson 0-2 (Hamel 0-1, Macall Banner 0-1), Havre 6-14 (J. Evans 3-4, Standing Rock 2-3, Lambourne 1-4, Filius 0-2, Mazurkiewicz 0-1). Rebounds — Polson 30 (Rausch 9, Kenney 6), Havre 24 (Lambourne 4, Mazurkiewicz 4, Bischoff 4). Assists — Polson 5 (Hamel 2), Havre 11 (Filius 4). Fouls — Polson 18, Havre 20. Fouled out — none. Technicals — none. Steals — Polson 9 (Mackenzie Banner 2, DiGiallonardo 2, Kenney 2), Havre 17 (S. Evans 4, Lambourne 3, J. Evans 3, Mazurkiewicz 3). Blocks — Polson 0, Havre 0. Turnovers — Polson 26, Havre 24.