By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Oh, those Ponies.
Maybe it was the natural consequence of playing Hi-Line rival Malta at home that pumped Havre for the game.
Maybe it was the daunting threat of traveling 173 miles from Browning to Havre with head coach Dennis Murphy with a loss notched on its record.
Whatever the reason, whatever the motivation, the ending is still the same.
Its either were awfully lucky or we played well, Murphy said. Our kids played extremely hard and because of that, good things are happening to them.
The Ponies handled the previously undefeated Browning Indians 58-47 on the road Friday in a Central A match-up.
They returned home Saturday and nipped the previously undefeated Malta M-ettes 47-46 in an overtime non-conference contest.
At Browning, sophomore Jeri Matter led a balanced Blue Pony attack with a season-high 18 points in the victory.
Junior Alyssa Matter chipped in 13 points, including two 3-pointers. Senior Tiffany Shrauger again notched double figures with 11 and was joined by senior Erin Patera who tallied a season-high 11 points.
The disciplined Browning team ran a controlled game that Havre handled well.
Defensively, the Ponies held Browning to a season-low 47 total points. Browning, coming into the match-up, averaged 63.4 offensive points.
Havre also held Brownings 5-foot-11 Laura Jo Kipp to 19 game-high points. Kipp had tallied a two-game 55-point total last weekend.
From the free throw line, the Ponies outscored Browning 13-3. Havre improved its record to 6-1, while Browning dipped to 5-1 on the season.
Saturday at the Blue Pony Corral, in an interclass match-up, Havre nipped District 2-B Malta 47-46 in overtime.
The good thing is it is our second overtime victory, Murphy said. I think our kids responded nicely in the overtime.
Havre opened the game with a 15-13 first quarter lead. Outscoring Malta 10-5 in the second, the Blue Ponies expanded their lead to 24-19 going into the locker room.
Malta stormed from the locker room in the second half to score eight unanswered points and led 27-26 with 5:18 remaining.
Sophomore Jayla McPherson came off the bench and grabbed an offensive rebound and went 1-of-2 from the line to even the score at 27.
However, Malta nailed three back-to-back 3-pointers, two by Stacey Nevrivy and one by Juliann Keller, that were answered only by two free throws by Jeri Matter.
Malta outscored Havre 19-10 in the third to lead 38-33 going into the fourth quarter. Nevrivy finished with 18 points while Keller had a game-high 20 in the contest.
Havre came out strong in the final eight minutes with Patera, Baltrusch and Shrauger each nailing a bucket to lift the Ponies to a 39-38 lead.
Malta did not score until Keller nailed a free throw with 4:25 remaining in the quarter to even the score at 39. Malta took the lead when Nevrivy hit a shot, then immediately stole the ball and hit another to lift the M-ettes to a 44-41 lead.
Havre was silent for more than three minutes in the final run until Baltrusch hit a crucial 3-pointer to even the game with 1:00 on the clock. The bucket sent the game into overtime.
With about 2:20 on the clock, Nikki runs to the bench and says Coach, coach, I dont have anything left, Murphy said. I asked her if she really wanted to be subbed out just when the game was getting fun.
Havre scored three points, all from the free throw line, in the overtime minutes. Patera connected on a one-and-one situation with 2:24 remaining to lift the Ponies to a 46-44 lead in the extra minutes.
However, after a Malta time out, M-ettes senior Leeann Pekovitch missed a shot but scored on her own put-back to tie the game with 1:51 remaining. Pekovitch, one of only four Malta players who scored, finished with eight points.
Patera, who played with four fouls in the second half, held Pekovitch to her low numbers.
Erins the only girl strong enough to guard Pekovitch, Murphy said. She played a whale of a game defensively. Every time Pekovitch made a cut, she was there.
After an exchange of fouls that saw Malta go 0-for-3 from the line and Havre go 0-for-2, the Blue Ponies held the ball at half court until :15 remained on the clock.
Murphy called a time out.
Shrauger threw the in-bounds pass to Baltrusch, who hit Alyssa Matter cutting at the free throw line. Matter missed the bucket, but a height mismatch underneath allowed cousin Jeri Matter to grab the offensive board. She was fouled on the put-back.
Nailing one-of-two free throws with :03 on the clock sealed the Havre victory.
They came out man, which surprised me, so we went to sets, Murphy said. Alyssa had a great look: it was just a little hard of the iron. Both big people were going to the basket. Jeri gets a hand on it and goes up and gets fouled.
Havre, 7-1, travels to CMR, 3-0, 3-3, at Great Falls Thursday to take on the Class AA opponent with varsity tip off at 7:30 p.m.