By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Nothing in the past matters now; it is only what lies ahead.
What lies before the Havre Blue Ponies (16-5) is, foremost, the Glendive Red Devils.
The two teams will open the evening session of the State Class A girls' basketball tournament held at the Butte Civic Center Thursday.
Havre enters the tournament the No. 1 seed from the Central A. En route to state, last weekend at Lewistown the Blue Ponies defeated Anaconda, 33-29, Lewistown, 45-41, and Browning, 46-45 to seal the seed and bring home the championship trophy for the second consecutive year.
Junior Alyssa Matter played a balanced offensive game last weekend. Matter tallied 10, 12, and 18 points, respectively, each night.
Senior Erin Patera notched 11 points in the opening-round game.
Senior Tiffany Shrauger sparked the Ponies both Friday and Saturday. Hitting three consecutive 3-pointers in the semifinal game against Lewistown, Shrauger helped to tear the game open in the fourth quarter en route to the four-point win. She finished with 15 points, including four treys in the game.
In the championship game, Shrauger hit a field goal and a free throw with :02 remaining in the game to lift the Ponies to a one-point No. 1 finish. She tallied 18 points in the victory.
An injured Nikki Baltrusch at divisional looks to return healthy for the Ponies at the state tournament.
Five-foot-10 sophomore Jeri Matter will get the start, while classmates Amy Ranes and Jayla McPherson look to come off the bench to spark the Ponies.
LaShae Michels and Sam Velk were key in the semifinal win over Lewistown last weekend. They each got the nod when Baltrusch was injured. Breyon Briese rounds out the Pony roster.
"I thought our bench was tremendous," Murphy said about the reserves at divisional. "That's how you win championships. It doesn't take five gals, it takes the whole team, and that showed pretty obviously for us. This team found ways to win."
And this team will be competing with the cream of the crop at state.
The Red Devils (15-7) are the third seed from the Eastern Division.
"Glendive is very similar to us," head coach Dennis Murphy said. "They're pretty solid defensively and they will mix up zone and man (defenses)."
Five-foot-8 Alisa Lordemann is the key to Glendive's game. Jessie Handran can hit the 3-pointer, and Michelle Mooer poses a threat on the perimeter.
Alison Ziegler, Kelsey Mast and Sarah Farber also play tough for the Red Devils.
"We both played Glasgow, and, if you want to compare scores, both our games with Glasgow were really close," Murphy said.
Glendive lost by a buzzer basket at Glasgow, and edged Glasgow at Glendive.
At Glasgow, Havre squeaked out an overtime victory, and, at Havre, the Blue Ponies came from behind to win the contest.
"It should be a dandy game," Murphy said.
The top-ranked Miles City Cowgirls (20-0), the defending state A champions, open the tournament at 12:30 p.m. against the No. 2 seed from the Central A in the Browning Indians.
The Indians (15-6), who were defeated by the Blue Ponies in the championship game, have one of the strongest offensive players in Laura Jo Kipp. Kipp led the Central A in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage throughout most of the season.
Teammate Kristin Madman, one of the best guards in the state, can push the ball, leads the league in steals, and, in the regular season, was No. 2 in 3-pointers made in the Central A.
Kayla Frize, Elizabeth Weimer, Amber and Ashley Griffith, and Amanda Christiaens are strengths for the Cowgirls.
"Miles City won the state championship last year, they're 20-0, and they've probably won more than 30 games in a row," Murphy said. "Miles loves their pressure defense."
Game two, at 2 p.m., will feature the Western A leader Libby Loggers (19-2) facing the No. 3 seed from the Central A, Fergus County Golden Eagles (16-6).
Lewistown's Cassie Chapman led the Central A in scoring, averaging 19.6 points per game during the regular season.
Jamie Slagel is tough on the perimeter and Amanda Bakkedahl has become an outside strength for the Eagles.
Sarah Freeman, Jolene Huntsberger, Annie Haines, Crystal Barnes, Kim Baker and Joanna Wolcott are powers for the Loggers.
"I know, in speaking to Lewistown's head coach, that they are really excited to play a western school," Murphy said.
In the late game, the Colstrip Fillies, the second seed from the east, will face Polson, the second seed from the west.
Colstrip (15-6) is led by Micah Allen, Rae Dawn Lei and Lisa Gange.
Polson (16-7) got the state berth via challenge game Monday night.
The Pirates are led by Delphia Moss, Cori Villegas, and Jackie Johnson.
"At this point in time, you have to put together three good games," Murphy said.
The Blue Ponies' tip-off is slated for 6:30 p.m. and will be aired on Channel 19 in Havre by the Montana Power Company.