By Kim Staudinger
BROWNING The Havre Blue Ponies got a sneak preview of how difficult a divisional tournament can be this last weekend, playing three games in a three-day span, two of which were on the road.
Havre, who handed Browning its first loss of the season, took to the road Friday night to face the now 13-3 Lady Indians. The Ponies, who knew the game would be closer than the first contest, took the game into overtime before escaping with the 63-60 victory.
"It's nice to go on the road and play a team as talented as Browning," head coach Dennis Murphy said. "We turned the ball over too many times (29), but so did they (26). They kept us in the game when they could have blown us away."
Havre (10-6) led for a majority of the contest, leading by four after the first quarter and by five at the half, but faltered some in the third quarter as Browning came out on top 40-37.
A battle of free throws consumed the fourth quarter, Havre making five of eight shots, while the Indians made seven of 13. Browning made two other shots from the field in the fourth, as did Havre, creating a tie with seconds remaining.
Laura Jo Kipp made two free throws with 13 seconds left in the game to give Browning a three-point lead at 51-48. Browning coach Ray Croff called a timeout after the free throws, which allowed the Ponies to set up a play for a last-second shot.
Murphy said he set up a play for senior Katie Malsam in which she was to shoot a three-point shot from the top of the key. Malsam got the ball at the top of the key and swished the 22-foot shot, hitting nothing but net. Malsam's shot tied the game with four seconds remaining.
"She executed the play very well," Murphy said of Malsam's shot. "She was our first choice to shoot that coming out of the timeout."
After Malsam drained her three-pointer, Browning called a timeout to set up a potential game-winning shot. Having only four seconds to go the full length of the court, Browning designed a lob pass from Kipp to Dani Augare. Murphy said Augare had a great look at the three-point shot, but it hit off the backboard, keeping the score tied at 51 at the end of regulation play. Browning attempted to put back the missed shot, but time had expired, sending the game into overtime.
Havre trailed early in overtime, but made key free throws, sealing the 63-60 win. Havre made six of eight free throws in overtime, while Browning only made four of 10.
"Our kids did a good job of sticking to our game plan and not getting carried away," Murphy said. "They had a difficult time defending us when we ran our set plays."
The Lady Indians had four players score in double figures in the losing effort. Augare led all scorers with 17 points for Browning, followed by Kipp with 14, Shayna Schildt with 12 and Jessica Edwards with 10.
Jayla McPherson led the Ponies with 16 points, closely followed by Jeri Matter with 14. McPherson and Amy Ranes each added 11 rebounds, including 19 defensive boards for the Ponies. Havre had 27 total defensive rebounds in the game, compared to 21 for Browning. But, Browning out-rebounded Havre offensively 22-12.
Havre shot 43 percent for the game from the field and 67 percent from three-point range. Browning only shot 30 percent from the field and 31 percent from beyond the arch.
Havre Julie Wagner 4, Katie Malsam 6, Carrie Flatau 5, Sara Suek 2, Alysia Kato 9, Jeri Matter 14, Amy Ranes 7, Jayla McPherson 16.
Browning Jessica Edwards 10, K.C. Everybody Talks About 5, Shayna Schildt 12, Jami St. Goddard 2, Dani Augare 17, Laura Jo Kipp 14.
HAVRE Havre was riding a hot streak coming into Saturday's game against Malta, after picking up two huge wins on the road against Chinook on Thursday and Browning on Friday.
The Ponies hoped the winning streak would continue against Malta at home, but the M-Ettes had other plans, stunning Havre 73-50.
Malta jumped out on top early and made two quick baskets before Havre was able to score. Jayla McPherson scored Havre's first basket with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. McPherson was fouled on the play, cutting the Malta lead to one.
But the M-Ettes would have none of Havre's comeback attempt as Kylee Starr hit a three-point shot and Jolene Fuzesy putback a shot seconds later, quickly increasing Malta's lead to six, forcing Havre to call a timeout.
"Malta came out and made two quick baskets and got on an absolute roll," Pony coach Dennis Murphy said. "They were very good that night and we were very bad."
Havre came out of the timeout and Katie Malsam hit a three-point shot at the 4:45 mark, but failed to score over the next four minutes, until Jeri Matter hit a shot with 35 seconds left in the first quarter.
Malta took a 10-point lead after the first and increased the lead to 38-14 at the half as Havre only managed four points in the second quarter, McPherson putback a shot with 6:20 remaining in the half and Jeri Matter also put back a shot with 30 seconds left to account for Havre's only scores. The Ponies shooting struggled the entire game, shooting 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from both the three-point range and the free-throw line. Meanwhile Malta shot 49 percent from the field, 60 percent from beyond the arch and 57 percent from the free-throw line.
"To give them credit, they were very good," Murphy said. "I don't know if we could have beat them if we played well. We don't have any excuses. They showed up to play and we didn't. It's just disappointing because not everybody played hard for us."
Nothing, not even the break at halftime, could stop the hot-shooting of the M-Ettes as their lead increased to 60-24 after the third quarter.
"Malta shot really well," Murphy said. "We got out of our game plan running up and down the floor. We took bad shots and missed key rebounds."
Havre, who played a mixture of subs throughout the fourth quarter, scored 26 points two more than they scored in the first three quarters of the game.
Malsam scored 11 points in the quarter, Renessa Briere came off the bench and scored seven points and Julie Wagner hit two three-point shots for six points in the fourth.
Starr led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Fuzesy with 20.
Malsam scored a season-high 18 points to lead the Ponies, while McPherson added 13.
Malta Jenny Stiles 7, Kylee Starr 23, Nikki Lindgren 2, Jolene Fuzesy 20, Nicole Salsbery 6, Katie Weber 8, Roshen Nordlund 6, Jenny Hoffman 1.
Havre Julie Wagner 6, Katie Malsam 18, Jeri Matter 4, Amy Ranes 2, Jayla McPherson 13, Renessa Briere 7.