By Tiffany L. Rehbein
It's a program honored by giving an award to the coach.
Dennis Murphy, who completed his 10th year as the head coach of the Havre Blue Ponies girls' basketball team, was named Coach of the Year in the Class A.
"It's nice to get, but it's an honor to the program," Murphy said. "It's an honor that my kids worked hard enough to give me an award."
Murphy gave credit to his players. The players that went out on the court night after night to practice. The players who went out on the court each weekend, and some weeknights, to play in head-to-head competition.
The players that worked to lead Havre to its third-straight regular-season conference title, with a 13-5 record.
The players that fought through the divisional tournament and brought home a No. 1 trophy.
The players that represented the Central A at the state tournament.
Players like senior Tiffany Shrauger and junior Alyssa Matter. All-conference, all-state, and all-tournament team selections.
Players like senior Erin Patera, a three-year letter winner and team leader; junior Nikki Baltrusch, the general on the floor leading the troops; sophomores Jeri Matter, Amy Ranes, Jayla McPherson, the height and strength inside; juniors Sam Velk, and LaShae Michels, coming off the bench at the divisional tournament, scoring crucial baskets, and junior Breyon Briese, an integral member coming off the bench at the state tournament, any time, given any circumstance.
It was the coaches, also, Murphy said. Sam Dierman, John Barnhorst, and Diane Way. The coaches who worked strategy and prepared for each night, each matchup.
"It's a program honored," Murphy said. "The kids worked hard. The coaches worked hard."
During the past three years, Murphy and the Blue Ponies have put together a 29-3 home-stand record.
During his first nine years at Havre, Murphy and the Blue Ponies compiled a 54-9 home record.
Murphy, who is in his first year as the head coach of the Havre Blue Pony boys' basketball team, will coach his 19th season of boys basketball.
He has been involved in girls' basketball for 14 seasons.
Between the two seasons, Murphy has coached as a head or an assistant at Florence, KG, and Malta.