By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Dennis Murphy ended his first season at the helm of the Havre boys' basketball program with a 12-11 record and a trip to the State Class A tournament.
"This is something that I love to do," Murphy said at the boys' basketball awards banquet Monday night. "I love to coach basketball."
Murphy joined the likes of Steve Keller at Helena High, Ron Miller at Lewistown, and Cary Veis at Miles City in that all four men coached both the girls' and the boys' programs this season.
Murphy handed out letters and special awards at the banquet, held at the Havre High School cafeteria.
"The special awards really exemplified our team," Murphy said. "There wasn't one person who stood out in front of everybody else."
Jesse Suek, a 6-foot-3 post player, was awarded the Top Defender.
Suek led the team in charges and was often called upon to guard the top offensive opponent.
"He was always willing to sacrifice his body for the better of the team," Murphy said.
Cliff Cooper, a 6-foot-3 senior, was awarded the Sixth Man.
Cooper, who was cut from the team as a freshman, used the off-season to refine his game. As a senior, he performed fine in his role coming off the bench.
The Top Newcomer award went to Scott Rice. Midway through the season, this junior came to life offensively for the Blue Ponies.
Rice also shot 54 percent from the field, the best on the team, which earned him the Best Field Goal Percent award.
Rick Brown, a 5-foot-7 senior, was awarded Most Outstanding.
Brown led the Central A in scoring and 3-pointers made throughout the season.
He also earned All-State honors, first team All-Conference, and first team All-Divisional tournament honors.
Brown also had the best free throw percentage, shooting 68 percent.
Senior Landen Grant led the team with 187 rebounds on the season, and was awarded Most Rebounds.
Grant was named to the second team All-Divisional Tournament team, and second team All-Conference this season.
Nate Baltrusch, a senior point guard, led the Ponies with 119 assists.
Baltrusch also led the Central A in assists. He, too, was named second team All-Divisional tournament, and honorable mention All-Conference.
Murphy went on to list some memorable moments from the season, which could apply not only to the head coach and to the Blue Ponies, but also to fans and Havreites, alike.
A Havre defeated Anaconda 75-66 at the Central A tip-off tournament on Dec. 11. It was Murphy's first win as a boys' coach in more than 10 years. (He was coaching only girls' in the interim).
A Havre defeated the Great Falls High Bison 68-61 on Jan. 29. If the Ponies had met the Bison later in the season during the first go-round, the Ole Goat could easily be in Havre right now.
A The Blue Ponies finished third in the regular season.
A Havre defeated Butte Central 55-43 in the semifinal round at the Central A divisional, held at the Belgrade Sports Complex. The win earned the Ponies a trip to the state tournament.
A The Ponies earned a berth to the state tournament.
"It has been a very memorable year for our kids," Murphy said.
Certificates of Participation Freshman: Chris Chandler, Jake Gower, Steve Heberly, Justin Jones, Justin Kegel, Curt Leeds, Ryan Lusin, Nate Reitan, Mike Tijernas, Tyler Benson, Eric Ward. Sophomores: Jacob Lorang, Kyle Sheppard, Matt Jappe, Josh Klobofski, Terrence Wells, Doug Ireland, Brandon Crawford, Casey Arensmeyer, Michael Frey, David Knight. Juniors: Brian DeRosa, Chris Daniels, Colby Smith, Jason Bowker.
First-year letter-winners Chris Young, Jesse Suek, Scott Rice, Ryan Fink, Dan Wirtzberger, Nick Henninger, Breyon Briese, Nikki Baltrusch, Ashley Kane.
Second-year letter-winners Landen Grant, Cliff Cooper.
Third-year letter-winners Ricky Brown, Nate Baltrusch.