By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The District 2B Malta Mustangs snapped the longest winning streak in the Central A with a 71-40 rout over the Havre Blue Ponies in non-conference play on Saturday at the Malta High School gymnasium.
"They were a better team than we were," Havre head coach Dennis Murphy said. "They did about whatever they wanted to do and they did it well. On the other hand, we didn't do much of anything very well."
Senior Ricky Brown led the Blue Ponies with 14 points, and was the only Pony in double figures. He popped three 3-pointers in the game.
The Ponies shot just 30 percent from the field in the game.
"They were a better basketball team than we were and they dominated us in every aspect of the game, because of that, we took a good whooping." Murphy said.
Malta's leading scorers, R.J. Tollefson and Nick Parker were held to a combined 18 points in the game. The first time Havre met Malta, the two combined for almost 40 points.
"If you had told me we could hold those two to a combined 18 points, I would have said we would win," Murphy said.
Scott Rice had five points, and Cliff Cooper and Nick Crawford chipped in four points apiece for Havre. Dan Wirtzberger came off the bench and popped a 3-pointer, while Nate Baltrusch scored his only three points of the game from beyond the arc.
The Mustangs zone defense kept the Blue Ponies off balance all night and strong bench play also propelled the Mustangs to the win.
Tim Chell, a starting guard, shelled out 12 points and seven rebounds, while Cody Oxarart, who averages little more than eight points per game, poured in a game-high 17 for Malta.
Ben Kaluza stepped off the bench for Malta and scored 11 points and had eight rebounds in the contest.
"It was such a well-balanced attack for Malta," Murphy said. "What they did to us is what we would like to do to other people. I just hope we are still saving our best game."
The Ponies were on a five-game winning streak going into the game at Malta. It was the longest in the Central A. The Butte Central Maroons, during the early season, had gone on a four-game streak.
The Ponies have two games remaining before heading into the divisional tournament. On Thursday, Havre is at Fort Benton, and Friday, Class AA leader C.M. Russell plays at Havre for parents night.
One win of the remaining two games would seal a third-place seed for Havre, who is currently 9-7 overall.
The Central A divisional tournament will be held at Belgrade Feb. 17-19.
Havre -- Dan Wirtzberger 1 0-0 3; Chris Young 0 0-1 0; Nate Baltrusch 1 0-0 3; Ryan Fink 1 1-3 3; Rick Brown 5 1-2 14; Scott Rice 2 1-2 5; Landen Grant 1 0-0 2; Nick Crawford 2 0-0 4; Jesse Suek 1 0-0 2; Cliff Cooper 2 0-0 4. Totals -- 16 3-8 40.
Malta -- Jon Carlson 0 2-2 2; Cody Oxarart 6 5-6 17; Ryan Lankford 1 0-0 2; JD Weber 3 1-2 7; RJ Tollefson 4 1-2 10; Tim Chell 6 0-0 12; Tyler Allen 1 0-0 2; Nick Parker 2 4-4 8; Ben Kaluza 3 5-7 11. Totals -- 26 18-23 71.
Total fouls -- Havre 17, Malta 14. Fouled out -- None. Three-pointers: Wirtzberger, Baltrusch, Brown 3, Tollefson.