A split at home is sometimes a tough pill to swallow midway through the season. But the Havre High boys basketball team can be proud of a split that gave them a huge boost in the conference standings.
The Central A Blue Ponies were in the middle of the pack entering the weekend. But coming out of the weekend, HHS is now the No. 1 team in the Central A. The bump in the rankings came after the Ponies were able to defeat the Browning Indians 76-50 Friday night in Havre. In nonleague play the Rocky Boy Stars defeated the Ponies 66-50 Saturday night in Havre.
But it was no harm, no foul as the Ponies were focused on the Browning matchup heading into the weekend. If HHS can continue to improve and grow after the tough loss to the Stars, then it will still be a win-win situation moving forward.
“Against Browning we controlled the game, but against Rocky Boy, Rocky Boy controlled the game,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “They played at the tempo they wanted to be at, and we got caught up in that tempo.
“Rocky Boy has a nice team and they play well together,” Leeds added. “They all play to their roles and strengths. We went away from our game plan a little bit but, overall, I would still say that it was a good weekend for us. We are now first in the conference, and I think we solidified ourselves as being one of the top teams in the Central A. This whole weekend was a learning experience, so hopefully by watching these games later on we can learn the differences that made us successful and not successful.”
One key to the Ponies’ success against the Indians can be summed up with one word: rebounds.
Through the first half, the Ponies looked like a team that could fight for a seed at the state tournament later this season, mainly because, by controlling the boards, they controlled the first two quarters. In the first quarter the Ponies grabbed 11 defensive boards and five offensive boards. They outrebounded the Indians 16-5. The trend continued in the second quarter as the Ponies grabbed two more offensive boards and six more defensive boards to outrebound the Stars 24-11 in the first half.
Crashing the boards and boxing out allowed the Ponies to limit the Indians to just 18 points in the first half, but also allowed the HHS offense to rack up 46. The Ponies were able to play at a high, but controlled pace. They scored buckets in transition as well as hit jump shots from all over the floor. Dane Warp scored 10 points in the first frame including a 3-pointer, but Kade Rismon also scored 13 points in the second frame including knocking down three-of-four free throws. Nate Rismon also hit two treys and scored all of his nine points in the first half.
“We dominated the glass and that was crucial,” Leeds said. “We didn’t let Browning get into any kind of rhythm, and the rhythm stayed in our favor. They didn’t get a chance to get into their press either, and were good about not giving up second, third, or fourth chance shots.”
On the flipside, the Ponies took advantage of their multiple opportunities. Near the end of the first quarter the Ponies missed two inside jumpers, but grabbed two offensive boards. Jon Faber grabbed the second board and quickly turned into a nice assist to Jase Kato inside for two points. The assist and bucket gave the Ponies the 21-8 first quarter lead, eventually snowballing into a 46-18 halftime lead.
The second half wasn’t quite the same for the Ponies, but they did enough to keep a comfortable lead. The Browning offense picked up and the teams traded points. The Ponies stopped getting the stops they got in the first half, and the rebound battle was also tightened up.
Browning outscored the Ponies 19-18 in the third quarter and 13-12 in the fourth quarter. The defense may have let up some, but the Havre offense still played a strong second half. The Indians went on a 12-4 run to start the half, but the offense quickly snapped back for the Blue Ponies. A Kade Rismon layup stopped the slide, but then Rismon and Warp also finished the quarter, and the game strong. In the final three minutes of the third both Rismon and Warp combined for eight points, while through the fourth quarter the two also combined for eight of the team’s 12 points.
Warp finished the game with an impressive 30 points and Rismon pitched in his 27. Kato also finished with six, Michael Bakke finished with three, and Brian Smith finished with one. Browning’s George Hall led the Indian efforts with 13 points.
“We played about as close to perfect as we could get in the first half,” Leeds said. “I still think we weren’t quite firing on all cylinders, we could have had a couple more kids score a little more, but it was close.
“Browning settled down a little bit and I think our boys might have relaxed a little bit (in the second half),” Leeds added. “It isn’t very often our boys have a 28-point lead heading into half. But I do think it was Browning stepping up and us letting up, and it wasn’t anything major, they still only outscored us by two points in the second half.”
Saturday’s matchup with the Stars was a tougher battle for the Ponies. After being able to handle the Indians’ pressure defense an up-tempo offense with apparent ease, the Stars ran all over the Ponies with an almost encore style of play.
Rocky Boy pressed the Ponies all game long and it was clear it was working with too many forced shots and turnovers by HHS. The Ponies weren’t sharing the ball like they did the night before and the result was a big hole early that the Ponies couldn’t escape. The Ponies scored just one point in the final four minutes of the first quarter as the Stars took a 13-6 lead after the first eight minutes. The pace continued for the remainder of the game as the Stars sprinted the floor for 20 points in the second, 19 in the third, and 14 in the fourth. The Ponies were held to 13, 17, and 14 in the same span, respectively.
“Their man defense got us flustered and at times our offense was stagnant,” Leeds said. “We weren’t working very hard with each other to try and get open.”
Warp did finish with 28 points, but the offense was too spread out. Kade Rismon finished with nine, Bakke finished with six, Nate Rismon finished with four, Kato finished with two, and Faber finished with one.
For Rocky Boy, this was a promising game moving forward.
Returning Class B All-State selection Junior. Day Child made his season debut this weekend and put together two strong games. After posting 22 points against Conrad on Friday, Day Child finished with another 10 to help lead the way against the Ponies.
“It is great (to be playing again), I love it,” Day Child said. “I felt pretty good for playing my first two games and it was good just to be able to pick up the rock and throw it around. I love playing with my team.
“But it was pretty fun and exciting playing Havre,” He added after the win. “This was a big crowd and I loved the environment here. In the lockerroom our coach told us to keep pushing the tempo and not slow down. He also told us not to make mistakes, and if we made mistakes to keep our head up. We just tried to do the simple things to get a win.”
Bubby Gopher also finished with 10 points, but the Stars were led by Cecil Lafromboise with 21 and Desmond Parker with 17. Isiah Murie also pitched in 10 as the starting five combined for all of the Rocky Boy points.
The Ponies will spend the next weekend on the road. Friday they will face the Rangers in Livingston and on Saturday the Ponies will face the Panthers in Belgrade.
Havre 76, Browning 50
Browning 8 10 19 13 - 50
Havre 21 25 18 12 - 76
Browning - Joseph Bremner 10, George Hall 13, Joe St. Goddard 2, Jake Bell 9, Trevor Gray 2, Emmette Dusty Bull 5, Sam Croff 9. Totals: 19 5-15.
Havre - Nate Rismon 9, Dane Warp 30, Brian Smith 1, Miachel Bakke 3, Jase Kato 6, Kade Rismon 27. Totals: 27 17-28.
Total fouls: Browning 22, Havre 12. Fouled out: none. Technicals: Bell. 3-pointers: Hall 4, Bell, Dusty Bull, Faber 2, Warp 3.
Rocky Boy's Desmond Parker, right, looks for a shot as Havre's Michael Bakke and Nate Rismon defend during Saturday night's rivalry game at the HHS gymnasium.
Rocky Boy 66, Havre 50
Havre 6 13 17 14 - 50
Rocky Boy 13 20 19 14 - 66
Havre – Nate Rismon4, Jonathan Faber 1, Dane Warp 28, Michael Bakke 6, Jase Kato 2, Kade Rismon 9. Totals: 18 8-15.
Rocky Boy – Bubby Gopher 10, Iisiah Murie 8, Jr. Day Child 10, Desmond Parker 17, Cecil Lafromboise 21. Totals: 26 12-16.
Total fouls – Havre 13, Rocky Boy 11. Fouled out – None. Three pointers – Warp 5, Bakke 1, Gopher 2.