By Tiffany L. Rehbein
If you only count the second half, the Havre Blue Ponies' boys' basketball team comes away with a win.
However, combined with the first half, the Blue Ponies (1-1) came up on the short end of a 76-62 Dillon Beavers' (2-0) win at the Central A Tip-off Tournament held at Butte Friday.
"In the first half, we made a ton of defensive-breakdown mistakes," said head coach Dennis Murphy. "They got a lot of uncontested shots both on the perimeter and some layups. We didn't get back defensively, and when we did get back, we didn't get a hand up."
Dillon, the defending State Class A champion, poured in 21 first-quarter points and led 45-23 at the half.
However, the Ponies cut the Beavers' lead to 14 at one point in the second half en route to the 14-point loss.
"In the second half we were kind of making a run at them," Murphy said, who is in his first year at the helm of the boys' program. "I thought we played much better in the second half."
Senior Ricky Brown had a game-high 25 points in the contest, including one 3-pointer.
"He had a nice floor game offensively," Murphy said.
Six-foot-3 senior Landen Grant led the Ponies in rebounds and scored 14 points in the contest.
Sophomore Danny Wirtzberger came off the bench and tallied five assists and chipped in six points in the game.
"He played extremely well," Murphy said. "It was a pleasant surprise to see him come off the bench as a sophomore. I was really pleased with his play off the bench."
The athletic Dillon team outrebounded the Ponies in the contest, and placed five players in double figures, led by Shane Sutherland with 18.
But redemption proved sweet for the Ponies, who returned Saturday afternoon and defeated the Anaconda Copperheads (0-2), 75-66.
"I thought we had a great start against Anaconda," Murphy said.
Senior Nate Baltrusch and junior Ryan Fink each snatched an early steal and scored to spark the Pony attack.
"The tempo was set in our favor right from the beginning," Murphy said.
Baltrusch scored 18 points, tallied 11 boards, and had six assists for Havre.
Brown again scored a team-high 20 points, including three 3-pointers in the game. However, foul trouble kept Brown on the bench for all but 22 seconds in the third quarter.
Havre scored just six third-quarter points, but exploded for 27 to close the game.
"Scott Rice came in and did a really nice job in his (Brown's) absense," Murphy said.
Jonathan Clark led the Copperheads with 18 points.
"We played two of the better teams in our conference and to come out with a split, you've got to be happy with that," Murphy said. "More importantly, we got an opportunity to watch our kids in a game-like situation and see the things we have to work on."
This week, the Ponies will have three-straight opportunities to fine tune their game against some Class B competition.
Thursday, the Ponies travel to Chinook, Friday, they will play their first home game against Fort Benton, and, Saturday, Havre will play at Glasgow.
"It will be a tough week for us, with three days of practice and three games," Murphy said. "We are going to have to be better Thursday (against Chinook) than we were at Butte."