By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High Blue Ponies went into last weekend's Central A Tip-off Tournament knowing the competition would be tough, but also expected to come away with two victories.
Only one of those thoughts ended up a reality.
The Blue Ponies suffered an opening day loss to the Dillon Beavers 64-47, before battling back on Saturday to hand a loss to the Butte Central Maroons 53-44.
"We definitely wanted to win two games, and we didn't get it done," head coach Dennis Murphy said. "With seven seniors, I thought we would play better and that our maturity would carry us through."
The tip-off tournament often acts as a showcase for teams to prove early on who will be the team to beat, but also works as an indicator for the coaches to show what each team needs to work on to better itself.
"Dillon absolutely showed us how much we weren't prepared for the press and for pressure defense," Murphy said. "Dillon was the best prepared team in the tournament. They played us so hard and with so much desire. We were on our toes all the time. I don't really know if we were ever in that ballgame."
Murphy had said earlier he thought he knew what to expect from Dillon's new coach, Bernie Wasser, but admits he was surprised by the Beavers.
"What really surprised me with Bernie is that he ran a lot of stuff Dillon ran last year. He didn't use a lot of stuff he used at Malta," he said.
Murphy said he used the tournament as a way to give his girls a lot of playing time and as a way to experiment with different players in different positions.
"Jeri (Matter) did a pretty good job for us with 13 points one day and 16 points another," he said. "She came in and did some good things for us, and she played a little point guard.
"Amy (Ranes) also shot the ball well. Most of her shots were in layup situations, but at least she converted. Sometimes those shots don't get converted," Murphy said.
The Ponies were able to get some easy baskets off of the press, but Murphy said he doesn't want his team to have to rely on the press to win games.
"It is pretty obvious to me we have to pick up our intensity," he said. "We do not have any luxury of not being ready."
Matter led Havre with 29 points on the weekend, followed by Ranes with 16, Jayla McPherson with 15, Katie Malsam with 13 and Carrie Flatau with 12.
The Ponies are in action at home on Friday against Harlem and on the road at Glasgow on Saturday.
Havre Julie Wagner 3, Katie Malsam 7, Carrie Flatau 8, Jeri Matter 16, Amy Ranes 6, Jayla McPherson 6, Jeanna McPherson 1.
Dillon Valory Monaco 8, Brittney Jones 4, Robin Russell 4, Kelly Godecke 5, Tanya Lalicker 7, Quinn Godecke 7, Libby Baker 18, Tiffany Stoddard 11.
Havre Katie Miller 2, Julie Wagner 2, Katie Malsam 6, Carrie Flatau 4, Jeanna McPherson 2, Sara Suek 2, Alysia Kato 3, Jeri Matter 13, Amy Ranes 10, Jayla McPherson 9.
Butte Central Kellie Paull 2, Karly Kambich 12, Meghan Walsh 2, Jordan Kambich 4, Carley Johnson 11, Erin Paull 6, Lauren Manion 7.