Havre High girls pick up an important road split
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The snow didn't stop the Havre High girls basketball team this weekend, and on their two-game conference road trip, the Blue Ponies were able to come away with another win. On Friday the Central A Ponies were in Livingston, where they suffered a 52-28 loss to the Rangers. But back in action on Saturday, the Ponies defeated the Belgrade Panthers 49-47 in Belgrade. After dropping the conference matchup on Friday, the Ponies were able to bounce back and capture the win on Saturday. And after losing to the Panthers the first time around, the Ponies were able to even the score. "Our kids did a nice job of bouncing back," Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. "They played fairly well against Belgrade in a tough environment, so we are pretty pleased. It was a total team effort, I was proud of how they played." Saturday's contest was tight from start to finish. But it was the 18-15 outscoring of the Panthers in the fourth quarter that helped the Ponies clinch the two-point win. The offense was minimal on both sides to start the game. But after the Panthers took a 9-6 lead after the first quarter, scoring gradually progressed for both squads. In the second quarter the Ponies outscored the Panthers 12- 10, but it was the Panthers taking the 19-18 lead into the lockerrooms midway through. In the third quarter both teams were dead even. Both the Panthers and Ponies put up 13 points, and after three quarters were in the books the Panthers held a 32-31 lead. HHS wasn't able to close the gap in the third quarter, but keeping it close throughout, the young Pony squad was able to make their move in the final eight minutes. The Blue Pony offense was led by Cassi Darrah who had another big night, finishing with 25 points. Darrah had a good game all around, but excelled from the 3-point arc, shooting 4-of-5 to lead the team's 5-of-10 three point barrage. Darrah also led the Ponies with 10 rebounds. Jaclyn Evans also had a good night, scoring 13 points of her own. Paighton Gilman finished with four, while Hayley Donovan and Cali Freier finished with two a piece. Christina Mack and Jenny Job also finished with two points a piece, making the best of limited playing time. Donovan was in foul trouble throughout the contest, giving Mack an opportunity to grab some minutes. And Job entered late in the game to knock down two clutch free throws. Facing the Rangers on Friday night, the Ponies just never got things going. In their first matchup earlier in the season the Ponies lost by one point in the last second of the game, but this time around the Rangers came out more dominant. "We didn't play real well," Kraske said. "We really shot the ball poorly. It wasn't really from lack of effort I don't think, we just couldn't put the ball in the basket for whatever reason." The Blue Ponies trailed 10-3 after the first quarter, and 24-11 at the half. HHS was struggling to score on offense and struggling to stop the Ranger defense. And after being outscored 16-5 in the third quarter, the Ponies found themselves trailing 40-16 with just one quarter left to play. In the fourth quarter the Ponies put up 12 points, their biggest quarter of the night. But with the Rangers also adding 12 points to the books, the Ponies weren't able to make up any ground after falling behind early. Darrah once again led the offense with a 10 point outing. Gilman followed with six, and Donovan added five. Freier also finished with four, while Evans finished with three points. The Pony defense knew the Rangers had several offensive weapons that needed containing. But in the big win, the Rangers' McKenzie Scofield knocked down 18 points while Kelsey Gray fallowed with 14. "Park executed all the things that we felt they would do, and they did a nice job doing them," Kraske said. "They shot the ball better in their gym than they did against us earlier in the year. They are a nice team and that's why they are the top team in our league along side Butte Central." Overall the Ponies played relatively well this weekend. They played aggressive and got to the free throw line more so than in past games this season. They shot the ball well, and most importantly got a conference win. With the weekend split the Ponies moved to 3-4 in conference and 3-8 overall. And after starting the second half of the season 1-1, they are looking at a battle for the No. 3 spot in the conference. "We are now fighting for third place," Kraske said. "And getting a split this weekend put us in the drivers seat. I feel confident that we can take third, and with three more conference games, going 1-1 is a good start." And now preparing to face CMR for the second time this season, the Ponies will be on the road on Thursday night. HHS also hosts Great Falls High on Saturday.