By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Oh, those Ponies.
After one week off from basketball action, the Central A Havre Blue Ponies exploded for 18 fourth-quarter points and stomped the District 2-B Chinook Sugarbeeters 54-43 at Chinook Tuesday.
The Blue Ponies, who were held to just five second-quarter points, and were down 23-20 at halftime, made some adjustments in the locker room and opened the second half strong.
At the half, we made some defensive adjustments and, although they continued to play with us, their fatigue factor started to set in, and we were able to get some steals, head coach Dennis Murphy said.
Junior Nikki Baltrusch snatched a team-high five steals in the contest. She also notched 13 points and nine assists in the victory.
Coming into the contest, Baltrusch led the Central A, averaging 7.4 assists per game.
I thought Nikki had a really good floor game, Murphy said. She comes in and hits a big 3-pointer for us that puts us up by nine, and she goes to the line later and makes some shots there, she did a nice job for us.
With :31 seconds remaining in the third quarter, and Chinook with a 34-31 lead, the Sugarbeeters, attempting a last-shot play, turned the ball over.
Baltrusch scored on a layup and the swarming Havre press caused another turnover on which the Blue Ponies scored with :04 remaining, lifting them to a one-point lead.
Up 35-34 to open the fourth quarter, Havre tore open the game en route to the win.
The Blue Ponies nailed 11-of-14 shots from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. They connected on 13-of-23 in the game.
Senior Tiffany Shrauger, who had a game-high 15 points, nailed 5-of-6 free throws in the contest.
Tiffany hit some big shots for us and made some free throws down the stretch, Murphy said. That builds some confidence for us in that we know who to go to in some set offenses.
Junior Alyssa Matter grabbed nine rebounds, tallied seven points, and went 3-of-5 from the line.
Sophomore Jeri Matter canned 13 points in the contest and went 1-of-4 from the free throw line.
Baltrusch hit 4-of-6 from the stripe.
Senior Erin Patera chipped in four points and sophomore Jayla McPherson added two in the effort.
I thought Jayla did a nice job of coming in the game and handling (Rhenda) Birky on the inside, Murphy said.
Birky, who scored a season-high 28 points one week ago, was held to 10 points and sat much of the game in foul trouble.
Sophomore Kelsie Whitney scored a team-high 11 points, while Katie Hoffman added 10 points in the Sugarbeeters loss.
The Blue Ponies shot 48 percent from the field, one of their best efforts of the season.
Havre (12-3) meets Central A opponent Browning (12-2) at the Blue Pony Corral Friday.
The Blue Ponies handed the Indians their first loss of the season on Sept. 24, with a 58-47 win.
Saturday, the Ponies travel to Malta to take on the M-ettes in non-conference action.
Havre Samantha Velk 0 0-0 0; Nikki Baltrusch 4 4-6 13; Tiffany Shrauger 5 5-6 15; Alyssa Matter 2 3-5 7; Jeri Matter 6 1-4 13; Jayla McPherson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 13-23
Chinook Kelsie Whitney 4 2-2 11; Katie Malsam 2 0-1 4; Katie Hoffman 4 0-0 10; Brenda Birky 5 0-2 10; Amanda Schoen 1 0-2 2; Caroline Morres 2 0-2 4; Kelly Acra 1 0-2 2. Totals: 19 2-9
Total fouls: Havre 13, Chinook 19. Fouled-out: None. Three-pointers: Baltrusch 1, Whitney 1, Hoffman 2.