By Kim Staudinger
With an average age of nearly 41 for its starting five, the Havre High faculty looked to improve upon an already impressive record on the basketball court Friday night at the Havre High gym.
In 25 years of hosting the faculty/senior basketball game, the faculty had only suffered three losses in 1993 to Jason Wirt's team, in 1997 to David Curtiss' team, and in 2000 to Drew Bracken's team.
The seniors from the class of 2002 were hoping to change that nearly perfect record, and it looked like they might very early on.
But led by the hot shooting of the faculty's Andy Carlson, a 1988 graduate of Auburn High School, the faculty climbed back into the game. Carlson had nine points in the first four minutes, his last giving the faculty a 12-10 lead.
From there the lead only increased, sparked by a 10-0 run minutes later for a 34-17 lead. Rich Vasquez, a 1991 graduate of Columbia Falls High School, had three steals and three lay-ups for six points in the two-minute span.
The seniors got back into the game with five three-point baskets Danny Wirtzberger with two and Mike Frey, Kyle Sheppard and Titus Pedraza each with one just before the half.
Two made free throws by Barry Kato right before the buzzer put the faculty up 55-52 at the half. Kato, a 1977 graduate of Havre High School, finished the game with 27 points, sharing the team lead with Carlson.
Kato and Carlson kept up the scoring parade for the faculty in the second half. Kato scored 11 points and Carlson eight, giving the faculty a 13-point lead with 2:30 remaining.
Just over two minutes later the scorekeepers started to help the seniors, counting each senior basket as three points and each faculty basket as one. Free throws for the seniors also counted as three points, while free throws for the faculty did not count.
The boosting of the seniors' score resulted in a 102-101 final score in favor of the faculty. The actual score was closer to 104-86.
Former Havre High standout Dustin Kraske, who graduated in 1994, followed Kato and Carlson with 13 points. Football assistant coach Mike Leinwand, a 1994 Forsythe High School graduate, followed with 12 points.
Ireland, Wirtzberger and Pedraza topped the scoring for the seniors, all in double figures.
"We had a wonderful turnout, probably one of the biggest turnouts we've ever had, especially with the students," organizer Brett Hamilton said.
Spectators brought nearly 400 pounds of food to the event as a donation for the North Havre Community Food Bank. In the more than 20 years of the event, the food bank has received more than 3,000 pounds of food.
Faculty Mark West 2, Dustin Kraske 13, Rich Vasquez 6, Mike Leinwand 12, John Barnhorst 6, Andy Carlson 27, Dennis Murphy 7, Barry Kato 27, Brett Hamilton 4.
Seniors Garrett Hanson 9, Nick Obie 2, Danny Wirtzberger 20, Kyle Sheppard 7, Mike Frey 5, Titus Pedraza 11, Kevin Harada 7, Doug Ireland 21, Jake Szudera 2, Troy Toner 2.