By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High Blue Ponies jumped out to an early 7-0 lead Friday night and never looked back, routing the Harlem Lady Wildcats 83-33.
After faking one three-point shot, Havre's Julie Wagner moved to the other side of the court and took advantage of a wide open look at the basket, putting the Ponies on the scoreboard 3-0. After Harlem's Leslie Horn picked up her first foul, and Sara Suek made both of her free throws, Havre took the lead 5-0.
"I was a little nervous to take that shot," Wagner said about her three-point basket. "But once I made it, I had the confidence to shoot more."
"It was definitely a better way to start the game," she said.
Harlem committed its second turnover in the first 45 seconds of play and Havre capitalized as Amy Ranes scored on an easy lay-up with the assist from Wagner. The Wildcats were forced to call a timeout, down seven at the 7:16 mark in the first quarter.
The Ponies continued to dominate, mounting a 25-7 lead after the first quarter.
"In the first 45 seconds, we had done a lot of good things. With a start like that, the kids are feeling good," Havre coach Dennis Murphy said. "That kind of set the tone for the type of game we would have."
Harlem cut the lead to 16 early in the second quarter, only to have Havre answer with a 10-0 run. The Wildcats' next score came on a free throw with just under three minutes to play in the half. Harlem didn't score again until Alicia Shields drilled a buzzer beater to end the second quarter.
Havre led 43-14 at the half.
"Our girls came out intimidated," Harlem coach Jack Plumage said. "The girls just weren't doing it tonight."
While the Wildcats may not have had the successful night they hoped for, the Ponies were able to play all 11 girls who suited up for the game and also try different player combinations on the floor.
"Each player had an opportunity to excel tonight," Murphy said. "Julie has a nice game with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists, then Carrie (Flatau) comes in and gets 13 points and nine rebounds. Katie Miller gets a couple of nice steals and Alysia Kato runs the floor well and gets three or four nice baskets in a row."
Havre picked up in the third quarter where it left off in the first half, scoring six unanswered points before Shields scored Harlem's first basket at the 5:37 mark.
The Ponies increased their lead to 42 points with less than one minute to go in the third quarter.
After scoring only seven points in each of the first three quarters of play, the Wildcats scored 12 in the fourth, but went scoreless for the last two-plus minutes of play, allowing Havre to come away with the 50-point victory.
"The game was really exciting and gives us encouragement for the rest of the season," Flatau said. "We know we can do it if we play like a team."
"All our fans are here and they expect a good game," said Wagner, who, along with Flatau, was the leading scorer with 13 points. "We have to keep playing like this."
Kato and Jayla McPherson added 11 points each in the victory for Havre.
Carly Haluszka was Harlem's leading scorer with 10 points and Shields tossed in eight for the Wildcats.
Harlem Megan Walls 3, Shields 8, Haluszka 10, Carmen Morales 2, Nona Main 6, Connie Cochran 2, Leslie Horn 2.
Havre Katie Miller 6, Rylee O'Connell 5, Wagner 13, Kacie Kitchens 2, Katie Malsam 4, Flatau 13, Sara Suek 9, Kato 11, Jeri Matter 2, Amy Ranes 7, McPherson 11.