By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Fresh play from the bench aided in the Havre Blue Ponies 49-40 win over the District 2-B Chinook Sugarbeeters Tuesday in non-conference action.
The 30 points shared among Nikki Baltrusch, Erin Patera and Amy Ranes didnt hurt, either.
Junior Sam Velk and sophomore Ranes got the start for Havre and tallied nine and 10 points, respectively, in front of the home crowd.
Velk notched the first two points of the game and gave the Blue Ponies a 2-0 lead with 6:44 remaining in the quarter.
I think that Amy Ranes and Sam Velk did a good job, said head coach Dennis Murphy. They responded very well to their first start. They really stepped up.
Havre, 8-2 overall, led 12-9 after one, but were held to just two points in the final four minutes of the quarter, until junior Breyon Briese came off the bench to sink a basket with seconds remaining.
The Ponies, behind Alyssa Matter and Ranes, opened the second quarter with six unanswered points to go up 18-9.
With more than six minutes remaining, after a Chinook time-out, sophomore Katie Malsam drove to the basket and scored for the Beeters. They went on to score eight unanswered points, and narrowed the gap to 19-18, until Blue Pony junior LaShae Michels came off the bench and notched a free throw for the Ponies.
With less than one minute remaining in the half, Baltrusch nailed a 3-pointer to lift the Ponies 22-18.
However, Chinook junior Renda Birky canned the final bucket of the half. Birky finished with a game-high 14 points, while Havre went into the locker room up, 22-20.
Alyssa Matter opened the second half scoring drive, nailing a bucket early in the third. Matter, who sat most of the game in foul trouble and fouled out with more than three minutes remaining in the game, finished with six points.
Senior Tiffany Shrauger tallied a free throw, her only point of the game, after grabbing an offensive rebound, and lifted the Ponies to a 25-20 lead.
Havre tore open the game in the third as it outscored Chinook 15-3 in the quarter. Free throws by senior Katie Hoffman and Birky were the only Sugarbeeter scores. Hoffman finished with nine points on the night.
Ranes, Baltrusch, Velk and Patera chipped in points to expand the Havre lead. Patera also notched 10 points in the game.
Havre used a smothering zone press to go up 37-23 heading into the fourth. In the third quarter alone, the press caused six Sugarbeeter turnovers, two resulting in Blue Pony points.
I think our zone press was probably the difference, Murphy said. It stifled their offense and they struggled with it.
Baltrusch opened the fourth quarter with a free throw to lift the Ponies 38-23. They would lead by as many as 19 points early in the fourth.
Chinook, who outscored the Blue Ponies 17-12 in the quarter, finally broke its shooting drought. After the Beeters broke the Havre press, senior Amanda Shoen notched a bucket with little more than five minutes remaining.
She scored one play later, again off a broken Pony press, and Hoffman tallied a bucket off an offensive rebound to narrow the Pony lead 42-29 with less than four minutes to play.
Havre would score only on free throws, nailing seven-of-10 with less than three minutes to play. Alyssa Matter, a mere nine seconds before fouling out, went 2-for-2 from the stripe. Patera and Baltrusch each went 2-for-2 and Velk went 1-for-2 in the final minutes to sew up the victory.
The Blue Ponies went 12-of-23 in the game, good for 52 percent.
The bench came in and did a good job, Murphy said. This was the type of game the kids could play in.
The traditional Blue Pony bench notched 22 points, while the varsity tallied 27 in the contest.
The Blue Ponies will be back in action Friday when they travel to Fort Benton to kickoff the second half of the season. Havre downed Fort Benton 58-45, when the two met earlier this season.
Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Havre Samantha Velk, 4 1-2 9; Nikki Baltrusch, 1 5-8 10; Breyon Briese, 1 0-0 2; Lashae Michels, 0 1-2 1; Tiffany Shrauger, 0 1-4 1; Alyssa Matter, 2 2-2 6; Erin Patera, 4 2-3 10; Jeri Matter, 0 0-2 0; Amy Ranes, 5 0-0 10; Total fouls: 18; Fouled out: Alyssa Matter; Three-pointers: Nikki Baltrusch, 1
Chinook K. Whitney, 1 0-1 5; K. Malsam, 2 0-1 4; K. Hoffman, 3 3-4 9; R. Birky, 5 4-6 14; A. Schoen, 3 0-0 6; C. Moores, 1 0-1 2; K. Acra, 0 0-0 0; Total fouls: 20; Fouled out: None; Three-pointers: K. Whitney.