By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Hard work, dedication, and a willingness to prepare for the season described the Havre Blue Pony girls' basketball team this season, according to head coach Dennis Murphy.
The girls were rewarded for those attributes at the the Havre High School girls' basketball awards ceremony Monday.
"These girls were paid more compliments than any other team I've ever coached," Murphy said. "That's because they came into practice ready to work every day."
That hard work led the team to its third-consecutive regular-season title.
It also led the Blue Ponies to a first-place Central A divisional title.
The Ponies, who finished 17-7 on the year, were knocked out of the State Class A tournament in Saturday morning action.
Junior Alyssa Matter, a third-year letter winner, was awarded best field goal percentage, at 45 percent, and most outstanding player.
Alyssa Matter was also selected to the all-divisional team, first team all conference, and first team all-state.
Senior Tiffany Shrauger, a third-year letter winner, was awarded best free throw percentage, shooting 69 percent on the year.
Shrauger was also named to the all-divisional team, and was named all conference honorable mention.
She will play at the Treasure State Classic in Billings Dec. 9-13, with classmate Erin Patera.
Patera, a third-year letter winner, had 144 rebounds on the season, leading the Blue Ponies. In addition, she was awarded best defender, often guarding a much larger post player throughout the season.
Her junior year, Patera notched a career-high 15 rebounds in one game for the Ponies, landing her in the top five in the record books.
Junior Nikki Baltrusch, who led the Central A in assists throughout the season, was awarded most assists.
She had 153 assists, the most ever in Murphy's tenure as head coach.
Sophomore Jayla McPherson, a first-year letter winner, was awarded the sixth player award, for her role coming off the bench.
Sophomore Jeri Matter, a first-year letter winner, earned the top newcomer award. This was given to the player who had never before lettered, and played an important role for the team.
All 10 varsity team members and the two managers, Nichole Borst and Lindsay Schmidt, were honored for Academic All-State.
To be recognized, the player must be on varsity and earn a 3.5 GPA or higher during the season.
"To have all 10 selected, plus our managers, is an incredible feat," Murphy said.
Currently, managers are not recognized by the Montana High School Association for this award.
Nine weeks into the season, the coaches reviewed each players' grades. With 65 total grades among the team at that time, 55 As were given, and 10 Bs were reported. There were no Cs or lower grades on any report.
Freshmen (14-4 record) certificates of participation -- Vanessa Brier, Taylor Donaldson, Carrie Flatau, Kacie Kitchens, Jeanna McPherson, Christina Olson, Jamie Peterson, Crystal Pyrak, Brooke Schwan, Samantha Shrauger, Sara Suek, Sherry Wenchel, manager, Ashley Kane. Freshmen B squad -- Angela Adams, Carly Ahern, Jenna Baltrusch, Bethany Kein, Heather LaPrath, Carla McCormick, Katie Siebrasse, Jamie Brandon (sophomore), Laura Hedstrom (sophomore). Sophomore junior varsity -- Linda Benboe, Alicia Crawford, Alysia Kato, Katie Miller, Julie Wagner. First-year letter winners -- Bethany Heydon, Jayla McPherson, Jeri Matter, Nichole Borst, LaShae Michels. Second-year letter winners -- Amy Ranes, Samantha Velk, Breyon Briese, Nikki Baltrusch. Third-year letter winners -- Alyssa Matter, Tiffany Shrauger, Erin Patera, Lindsay Schmidt. Special awards -- best field goal percentage, Alyssa Matter, 45 percent; best free throw percentage, Tiffany Shrauger, 69 percent; most rebounds, Erin Patera, 144; most assists, Nikki Baltrusch, 153; 6th player award, Jayla McPherson; top newcomer, Jeri Matter; most outstanding, Alyssa Matter; best defense, Erin Patera. Tournament teams -- Divisional, Tiffany Shrauger, Alyssa Matter; All-Conference, Alyssa Matter, first team, Tiffany Shrauger, honorable mention; All-State, Alyssa Matter; Treasure State Classic, Tiffany Shrauger, Erin Patera; Academic All-State, Jeri Matter, Jayla McPherson, Amy Ranes, Alyssa Matter, Nikki Baltrusch, Breyon Briese, Sam Velk, LaShae Michels, Erin Patera, Tiffany Shrauger.