By Jess Green
The Havre High School Blue Pony girls' basketball team set the tone Thursday night for the upcoming homecoming weekend by rolling past the Fort Benton Longhorns, 56-28.
Coming out strong, the Ponies took the early lead and never gave it up. This victory brings the Ponies record to 7-3 and opens a string of five games at home where they are now 2-0.
The Havre girls worked towards a 13-8 first quarter lead. This lead was extended to 32-19 by the half. Early play was highlighted by Jayla McPherson, who put up four second-quarter field goals for eight points. Late in the second quarter the Blue Ponies began to runaway with the game, scoring 11 unanswered points.
e second quarter was where the Blue Ponies' offense really took off. Putting up a total of 19 second-quarter points made it the Ponies highest scoring quarter of the game.
In the second half the Havre girls extended their lead with more solid play both offensively and defensively. From two minutes into the third quarter to two minutes left in the third quarter, the Blue Ponies scored six field goals while holding the Longhorns scoreless. Scoring for both teams slowed down in the fourth with Havre putting up a total of eight points and Fort Benton scoring four points.
Scoring leaders for the Blue Ponies included Alyssa Matter with 12 points, Amy Ranes with 10, and Jayla McPherson with 10. Nicole Plante scored nine points and Tara Buck put up eight points for the Longhorns.
Coach Dennis Murphy credits his girls with a good win. He said he felt that their defensive intensity was strong throughout the game.
Murphy added that often when the Longhorns couldn't score it caused frustration and provided scoring chances for the Ponies. The coach said that he thought all of the Havre players really stepped up, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
"Our size really wore them down," Murphy said. "We made them work hard for what little offense they were able to maintain."
Murphy added that Fort Benton pressed full court nearly the whole game, but the Ponies managed to move the ball well.
Of special notice to the coach was the consistent good floor play by Nikki Baltrusch.
"Throughout the game she made good decisions about where to send the ball," he said.
The varsity team was not the only team to enjoy a victory Thursday evening. In earlier games, the freshman team beat Fort Benton 46-31 and the junior varsity club pulled out a late win 30-23. The victories for the Blue Pony squads provide something positive to build on going into their homecoming game versus Glasgow this Saturday.