Havre Daily News sports writer
As far as 1-2 punches go on the basketball court, Havre High’s Peyton Filius and Brandy Lambourne have become pretty good at playing together. No, after four high school basketball season’s together, they’ve become one of the best and most dangerous tandems in Class A.
And it has been that way for the last six years, since the two began playing together in the seventh grade. Since that time at Havre Middle School, both Filius and Lambourne have come together as good friends and teammates on and off the court, especially the last four years for coach Dustin Kraske and the Havre High Blue Ponies.
But if you ask the dynamic duo what they think of each other, it is almost like they are describing themselves as well. It’s second nature for the duo to give credit to each other, and it’s become second nature for them to play together and play well.
“She is a really good basketball player,” Lambourne said when asked about her senior teammate. “A really great leader, and she can see the floor really well. She is just a good player all-around for sure, and she really gets on the team when we need it. She is a vocal leader, and I think I am a quiet leader, so I think we really just balance each other out.
“She is our point guard, she is a really good ball handler and a great leader,” Filius went on to say about Lambourne. “She is really fun to play with because she is such a smart player and a really good teammate.”
Chemistry between players and teammates doesn’t happen overnight. In some cases, no matter how long two players compete together, the chemistry doesn’t always gel. But chemistry, and the ability to play well together has never been a problem for Lambourne and Filius, who will continue to be a dynamic duo together in college.
Shortly after joining forces in seventh grade, after Lambourne moved to Havre from Arizona, the chemistry between these two friends propelled them into two separate and conjoined careers at the prep level.
Nearing the end of their senior season, the two will lead the Ponies into their third state tournament. Filius and Lambourne have been compared to one another often, both in their skills and playing styles. Both have been named First Team All-Conference players in the past, while Filius even garnered All-State honors last season as a junior. And while both are speedy guards, who stand at 5-5 and can score from all over the floor, this year, both guards are also scoring an equal 13 points per game. Filius shoots 41 percent from two-point range while Lambourne is shooting 51 percent. Lambourne is shooting 34 percent from 3-point range while Filius is right at 30 percent. Both are also leading the team with their free-throw percentage, steals and assists.
But as much as they are compared on a game-to-game basis, and the two styles may be similar, their differences also compliment each other very well.
“She (Filius) can penetrate and pull up for a mid-range jumper really, really well,” Lambourne said. “I don’t have that, I mean I try to, but I just don’t have that right now, I typically either get to the basket, get to the free-throw-line, or kick the ball to a shooter when I drive. But I always know where she is at or where she is going. I never have to worry where she is going to be.”
Filius agreed they play similar, but different as well.
“I think we can both handle the ball well in pressure situations,” Filius said. “But she is definitely more the point guard for our team and I am more of a shooting guard for our team. But I also think she did a better job of getting to the free-throw-line this season. Our similar styles help us, and I think we can both see the floor really well. And we have been on tournament teams together since she moved here in the seventh grade, so we have pretty much spent all summer together and all basketball season together since we were 12.”
And while the run of great games and performances started when they were just 12 years old, the run could continue over the next four or even five years right here in Havre.
The two talented guards previously announced they would both play for the Montana State University-Northern Skylights and coach Chris Mouat after graduating HHS later this year.
“Those two kids together are great,” Havre High head coach Kraske said. “They are great as individual players, they were so easy to coach, and they do their best every time they play. They work hard every day, and it has just been four years of that for me. Yeah, we have had our rough days over the four years, but as far as kids that want to be good players and want to be coached, I couldn’t ask for any more out of them. It is going to be sad for me when this weekend is over and I am done coaching them, but exciting because we get to watch them play beyond this year. Coach Mouat has a great program going, and he couldn’t get two better kids to add to what he is doing in my opinion.”
There was never a set plan in motion to continue their careers together, but some things just seem to work out, and as future Skylights, Lambourne and Filius will be right at home with each other.
Almost every Frontier Conference school came knocking at both Filius and Lambourne’s door, but the best fit seemed to be right here with the Skylights. Lambourne said she always knew it was a slim possibility, but had hoped they would end up together in the college ranks. Filius also thought about it, but thought it was a slim chance with Lambourne being from Arizona. But when Lambourne signed first, it opened the door wide open for the two to reunite next year on the hardwood.
But as friendly as the two standouts are on and off the court, they are both extremely competitive. They both go head to head in drills during practice, and if a game of H.O.R.S.E. breaks out, watch out, because it is anybody’s game.
“It is probably 50/50,” Filius said. “It depends on the day I think. We always do long and short competitive drills in practice and we partner up every time, and those can go either way, too.
“But she can shoot from half court like no other,” Filius added with a laugh. “So she does have that trick shot if she needs it.”
And from the sounds of it, Lambourne isn’t afraid to break that shot out every now and then.
Blue Pony seniors Brandy Lambourne, left, and Peyton Filius have been teammates since the seventh grade at Havre Middle School.
“I really think it would depend on the day or maybe the ranges that we are shooting from,” Lambourne said. “I would totally get her on a half court shot though, it’s not anything I really practice, I just throw up a couple after practice sometimes. Over the summer, after open gym, I hit like 10, so I know I could get her with that if I needed to.”
But as fun as the friendly competition is between Peyton and Brandy, the duo has been anything but fun for Class A defenses over the last four years. There isn’t another guard combo in the state like Filius and Lambourne, and the rest of the Class A field will find that out this weekend in Great Falls.
Though their Blue Pony careers will come to an end at some point this weekend at the Four Seasons Arena, hopefully with a coveted state championship, fate and friendship will give Havre the chance to keep watching the duo for years to come.