By Kim Staudinger
It wasn't pretty, but it was a win Thursday night for the Havre Blue Ponies, ending a seven-game losing streak dating back to early January.
The Ponies' scattered defensive pressure held Chinook to just four points in the first quarter en route to a 64-45 win Thursday night in Havre.
"We've been starting slow the last couple games," Chinook coach Derek Miller said. "We have not been relaxing. We've been playing more not to lose than to win."
Chinook senior Jordon Nissen scored the only points for Chinook in the first, on his way to 12 for the game. Sophomore Trent Normandy score six points for the Ponies in the first, including two free throws and two baskets on putbacks.
The eight-point lead after the first quarter increased to 15 at the half, but not before a short rally by the Beeters. Chinook scored five straight points to start the quarter, cutting the Havre lead to 14-9.
But Normandy answered the run with a three-point basket from long range as the Ponies began to run away with the game.
"I think Havre out hustled us in the first half," Miller said. "They came out and wanted it. It looked like it meant more to them than us and it showed."
Guided by seven points apiece from senior forward Titus Pedraza and sophomore guard Cory Brothers, Havre took a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter.
"We have a definite mental block with Havre," Coach Miller said. "And it's not just boys sports, but we have a major, major hang up with Havre."
Senior Kevin Hansen got Chinook started in the fourth quarter, scoring the first four points, making a small dent in the Ponies' lead. Hansen scored eight points in the quarter and had 11 on the game.
After Hansen's third basket of the quarter at the 1:13 mark, Chinook pulled to within 12. The Beeters missed two free throws after Hansen's basket, failing to score for the remainder of the game.
With under one minute remaining, senior Mike Frey scored five points and Normandy added two free throws as Havre finished the game with a 19-point win. Normandy led all scorers with 14 points, followed by Frey and Pedraza with 13 each.
"It's a win, but we're still not to where we want to be," Havre senior Kevin Harada said. "We'll be there next week at divisionals where it counts."
Said fellow Havre senior Doug Ireland: "We need to boost our intensity for divisionals. We need to control the tempo of the game."
Chinook plays at Poplar tonight and will host Fort Benton on Saturday.
The Ponies end their regular season tonight as Great Falls High travels to town for senior night.
"It's tough to come into Havre and play us," Frey said. "So we're looking to play our game and pick up another win." The Bison have yet to win a game on the road this season.
Chinook Mike Mereness 2, Kevin Hansen 11, Kyle Doney 2, Casey Schmitt 12, Micky Haney 3, Morgan Strausser 3, Jordon Nissen 12.
Havre Steve Heberly 2, Kyle Sheppard 4, Mike Frey 13, Trent Normandy 14, Cory Brothers 7, Doug Ireland 4, Kevin Harada 3, Titus Pedraza 13, Ryan Lusin 4.