By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Both Havre and Lewistown would like to believe that great defense led to the low scoring 45-36 Havre win Thursday at the Havre High gymnasium.
And they could be right.
"I think both teams defended pretty well tonight," said Dennis Murphy, head coach of the Havre Blue Ponies. "They (Lewistown) run a type of defense that has great ball pressure. It was a typical Lewistown game."
The Eagles (7-6) shot 12-of-36 in the game. When Lewistown defeated Havre earlier this season, the Eagles put up just 39 shots, but scored 73 points.
"They are very patient offensively," Murphy said.
That patient offense spurred a first quarter that ended with a 12-9 Blue Pony lead, and a half that ended with an 18-16 Havre lead.
Blue Pony senior Ricky Brown had two 3-pointers to lead the Havre attack in the first half, both of which he made in the first quarter. He finished with a game-high 16 points.
Cliff Cooper, Nate Baltrusch, and Jesse Suek were the only Ponies to score in the second quarter. Baltrusch finished with nine points, and Cooper added seven in the game.
Lewistown's Ryan Dunn made one basket and went 3-for-4 from the foul line to lead the Eagles in the second quarter, while Kyle Trafton scored the other basket for Lewistown in the quarter.
Havre was held scoreless for more than four minutes in the third quarter until Brown nailed a perimeter shot.
Brown, the conference's leading scorer, and Lewistown's Newell Roche, the conference's second leading scorer, exchanged buckets to close the third quarter with the score knotted up at 25-25.
With 4:51 remaining in the game, Brown popped a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, and on the defensive end, stole the ball. On the ensuing foul and in-bound play, Cooper's basket lifted the Ponies to a 34-30 lead en route to the win.
It was all free throws in the final four minutes for Havre. The Ponies went 7-for-8 to sew up the victory. They finished 9-of-14 in the game.
Lewistown put just four players in the scoring category. Roche scored a team-high 12 points, Dunn added 11, Trafton chipped in 10, and Matt Salvi nailed one 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Havre's bench once again proved itself, outscoring Lewistown 15-0.
Chris Young had two points, Ryan Fink scored six, and starter Scott Rice scored two for the Ponies, who improved to 7-6 with the conference win.
Havre has won three straight games and will prepare for the Great Falls High Bison on Saturday at Great Falls.
The Bison (1-3, 3-7) won the last matchup, 58-52.
However, Great Falls has struggled of late, and rely on Noah Thatcher to carry its offense. Thatcher averages 10.8 points per game.
Elias Stump and Tagan LaFountain can also score for the Bison. Dustin Prinzing and Andrew Campbell have had to step up for the Bison after the loss of two starters (Bo Scott and Van Redpath) earlier this season.
Varsity tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at the Bison Fieldhouse.
Lewistown Newell Roche 5 1-2 12; Matt Salvi 1 0-0 3; Ryan Dunn 3 5-7 11; Kyle Trafton 3 4-4 10. Totals: 12 10-14 36.
Havre Chris Young 1 0-0 2; Nate Baltrusch 3 3-4 9; Ryan Fink 2 2-3 6; Ricky Brown 5 2-4 16; Scott Rice 1 0-0 2; Landen Grant 1 0-0 2; Jesse Suek 0 1-2 1; Cliff Cooper 3 1-1 7. Totals: 16 9-14 45.
Total fouls: Lewistown 15, Havre 19. Three-pointers: Roche, Salvi, Brown 4. Fouled out: none.