By Tiffany L. Rehbein
They sealed third place.
With the Havre Blue Ponies 76-57 win over the District 1B Fort Benton Longhorns, the Ponies sealed a third-place seed in the Central A divisional, slated to begin next Thursday.
"We had a very good start," Havre head coach Dennis Murphy said.
The Ponies exploded for a 20-6 first-quarter lead to open the game, before a late Longhorns' 3-pointer cut the lead to 20-9 to end the quarter.
"Our approach to the game was really good," Murphy said. "They had to work extremely hard to get shots off against us. On the other end, we were really patient offensively and took good shots."
Landen Grant scored a game-high 18 points for Havre, including two 3-pointers. He went 8-for-8 from the field and had nine rebounds in the contest.
"He had a really nice basketball game last night," Murphy said.
Fort Benton went 1-for-7 to open the game and Grant had five boards in the succession.
"He dominated the boards early, which we needed, and, offensively, he couldn't do much better than eight-for-eight," Murphy said.
Nate Baltrusch scored 16 points, Ricky Brown popped four 3-pointers for 14 points, and Scott Rice chipped in 13 for the Ponies, who are 10-7 overall after the win.
Tim Scheele and Charlie Lenington scored 11 points apiece for Fort Benton.
The Ponies will face Class AA C.M. Russell tonight at the Havre High School gymnasium.
The Rustlers lost their first game in 2000 with a 64-60 loss to top-ranked Helena High last night at Great Falls.
While CMR has obviously had a successful season, the Blue Ponies get to close their season at home, are 6-7 throughout the last half of the season, and are coming off a nice win last night.
CMR, on the other hand, lost a hard-fought battle to claim the top spot of the Class AA, and will be playing on the road.
"I hope that maybe last night's game was a little difficult for them," Murphy said. "But, they are obviously a quality team and they are not going to lay down and die."
CMR defeated Havre 68-50 earlier this season.
Justin Hartman, Landon Danielson and Jason Goodman are strong for the Rustlers.
"Hopefully a little magic will appear at the Blue Pony gym," Murphy said.
Varsity tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. The parents will be honored.
Havre Chris Young 1 0-2 3; Nate Baltrusch 6 4-4 16; Ricky Brown 5 0-0 14; Scott Rice 4 4-4 13; Landen Grant 8 0-0 18; Nick Crawford 0 4-4 4; Jesse Suek 2 2-2 6; Cliff Cooper 1 0-0 2. Totals: 27 14-16
Fort Benton Grant Elliott 2 0-0 5; Jeremy Anderson 2 4-8 8; Charlie Lenington 4 2-3 11; Jake Parchen 0 1-2 1; Derrick Honrud 2 4-5 8; Brad Benjamin 3 0-0 7; Colton Kassmaier 0 2-2 2; Josh Kassmaier 1 0-0 2; Tim Scheele 5 0-1 11; Brant Birkland 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 14-21.
Total fouls: Havre 16, Fort Benton 16. Fouled out: none; Three-pointers: Elliott, Benjamin, Scheele, Young, Brown 4, Rice, Grant 2.