Havre mounts huge second half comeback only to fall short by 11
By Kim Staudinger
Havre's maniacal full-court defensive pressure provided the antidote, but not before Lewistown's venom scoring phenom Katie Edwards had run its course.
Anchored by pesky defender Julie Wagner, who had a team-high three steals and seven assists, the Blue Ponies diligently whittled away in the second half at a healthy point cushion aided by Edwards' 17-point first-half performance. However, Havre would get no closer than seven with under two minutes left, falling, 73-62, Thursday night in Havre.
Though Lewistown (4-1) led by as many as 22 points with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Ponies rejuvenated in the fourth.
Trailing 67-49, Havre (3-2) reeled off 12 unanswered points to shrink its deficit to seven. Guard Jeri Matter (12 points) and senior forward Jayla McPherson (team-high 13 points, 9 rebounds) netted four points apiece during the crucial run.
"They weren't ready to give up yet," said Edwards, who had a game-high 29 points on 10-of-25 shooting with four three-pointers, but only five points in the last quarter. "They got on a roll and we couldn't stop them. We got really flustered."
However, on consecutive trips to the foul line, Lewistown junior Dani Buehler converted 2-of-4 free throws in a 26-second span to interrupt Havre's scoring spree and extend the Eagles' lead nine with 44 seconds remaining. One possesion later, Eagles sophomore Megan Berg (10 points) converted 1-of-2 from the line stretch the lead to double digits. The Blue Ponies would get no closer.
Lewistown led, 40-21, at the half but at the start of the third, Havre flustered the Eagles with its 1-2-1-1 full-court press. The Ponies forced two turnovers in the opening minute, but could only knock three points off the lead.
The fourth quarter was a different story though, as Lewistown panicked and found its lead diminishing . Head coach Ron Miller called a timeout at the 4:37 mark to break Havre's rhythm. During the stoppage in play, Miller down-shifted his team into a slow-down offense to burn the clock.
"I felt like we had no momentum going," he said. "I was hoping to take one minute off the clock. If we had the ball, it meant that they didn't. They were certainly aggressive in the second half; they took it to us."
Said Edwards: "We didn't really plan on stalling, but they were playing such great defense, we had to. They came out and out-worked us in the third."
Miller said there was no question the press hurt his team, which is why he felt the need to take time off the clock. Miller also said he felt fortunate to have the big lead he did, enabling him to have the luxury to stall.
"I thought it was pretty smart," Havre coach Dennis Murphy said about Miller's stalling tactics. "It was a good move on his part."
Lewistown broke out of its shooting slump early in the game, shooting 51.7 percent from the field before intermission. The Eagles shot 48 percent for the game from the field and 50 percent from three-point range, making 9 of 18 three-point attempts.
"We were struggling shooting, and I thought we broke out in the first half," Miller said. "Anytime you score 40 points in a half against Havre, that's a positive."
Aside from the improved shooting, Lewistown also out rebounded Havre, 42-33.
"They killed us on the boards, an area where we should have been better than them, they killed us on tonight," Murphy said. "We were hoping it would fall in our arms. When we finally did get them to take a bad shot, we didn't rebound it."
"I think we played scared in the first half, we were too hesitant," Matter said. "The difference in the second half was we came out and played hard and played with confidence."
Murphy said his team showed a good effort to get back in the game, but you can't just play strong for two quarters and hope to win.
"We just flat out didn't get it done," he said.
Lewistown Brenda Bassett 9, Monique Moen 7, Shaylynn Conroy 8, Emily Roche 6, Megan Berg 8, Dani Buehler 4, Katie Edwards 29, Lesly Richter 2.
Havre Julie Wagner 6, Katie Malsam 7, Carrie Flatau 12, Alysia Kato 2, Jeri Matter 12, Amy Ranes 8, Jayla McPherson 13, Rylee O'Connell 2.