A big split: Blue Pony boys shock Eagles
Two more conference games are in the books for the Havre High boys basketball team, and in dramatic fashion, the Blue Ponies were able to come away with a Central A split over the weekend.
On Friday the Ponies hosted the Lewistown Golden Eagles at the Havre High gymnasium where HHS earned the 44-42 win on a last second 3-pointer. But Saturday on the road, the Butte Central Maroons defeated the Ponies a 53-36.
"It was big for us to split," Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. "We would have loved to win both games this weekend, but it was a tough weekend. We faced a very tough Butte Central team on the road, but to get the split was encouraging. Lewistown was a really big win for us. We didn't shoot very well at all and we were still able to come away with a conference win, a win that we needed."
Hosting the Eagles, the Ponies had possibly one of their worst shooting night's of the year. And while previously, Logan Connor and Anfernee Standing Rock had been combining for nearly 40 points per game, for the most part the Ponies had to rely on their supporting cast.
Brandon Smith led the Ponies with 11 points. But Ryan Myers chipped in with 10 points of his own, knocking down several buckets in clutch situations to keep the Ponies from slipping out of contention.
Myers first big shot came at the end of the third quarter. The Ponies trailed by nine points, but Myers hit a trey at the buzzer to keep the Ponies within six heading into the fourth. And at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Myers earned the Ponies' first five points. He knocked down his second three to move HHS within three, then converted an easy layup after a long outlet pass to cut the lead to 34-33.
Drew Kafka also had four points and Kade Barsotti had two. Connor and Standing Rock combined for 17, Connor with nine and Standing Rock with eight.
"It's like I said to the kids," Smith said. "If you would have told me that Logan (Connor) and Anfernee (Standing Rock) would combine for 17 points and we would win I wouldn't have believed you. That was a real testament to our other players, pitching in 27 points like that. I thought it was by far Brandon (Smith's) and Ryan (Myers') best game offensively."
The Ponies defense also contributed to the win.
HHS trailed 15-11 after the first quarter and 20-17 at the half. And after trailing by as much as 11 points in the third quarter, the Ponies trailed 34-28 heading into the final frame. The Ponies weren't having a very good night offensively, but the defense made sure the Eagles didn't have one either. In the second quarter the Ponies had nine defensive rebounds. And Kafka took two charging calls in the fourth that kept the Eagles from scoring.
Myers also had a good game defensively, holding the Eagles' leading scorer Jorden Vinger to just four points.
"Myers had an all around good game," Smith said. "Both ends of the floor Myers did a great job. We have to do some of those little things (like drawing the charge), we have to come up with defensive stops to be competitive."
With the Pony defense keeping the game in reach, Connor was finaly able to break his offensive funk. He struggled to score all night long, and even went 0-12 from behind the 3-point arc. But with 5:42 left to play, Connor hit his first trey to tie the game at 36-36. And with just seconds left on the clock, Connor hit his second three of the game, giving the Ponies a 44-42 lead and win after a last second shot by the Eagles rimmed out.
"Logan (Connor) is a shooter," Smith said. "And he showed that. When the game was on the line he hit the big ones. We always have confidence in him and you can tell, we kept running plays through him and didn't quit going to him. He did a good job, he was able to step up when we needed him the most."
Saturday's game against the Maroons unfortunately didn't end in the same heroics. HHS struggled to find its shot for the second straight night, but the Maroons were just too good to let the Ponies stick around.
The game was tied 6-6 after the first quarter, and the Ponies only trailed by four at the half. The Maroons held 21-17 lead. But the Maroons came out in the second half with high energy, while the Ponies struggles continued.
"It just felt like in the second half we were kind of running out of the energy that we had earlier in the game," Smith said. "And I thought it was the total opposite for Butte Central. They adjusted in the second half and turned it up a notch with their defensive pressure."
The Maroons outscored the Ponies 32-19 in the second half and a lot of that had to do with the Maroon's defensive pressure. They really got after the Ponies and wore them down. The Ponies struggled to find an open shot in the second half, as Butte Central crowded the passing lanes and forced the Ponies into turnovers.
A shining point from Saturday was once again Myers' defense. Andy Ritter is the leading scorer for the Maroons, averaging about 16 per game. But with Myers guarding him, Ritter was held to just six.
"He (Myers) really did a good job this weekend," Smith said.
The Ponies hung with the league leading Maroons for an entire half before wearing down. And while the Ponies' offense struggled once again, Smith was happy with the first half efforts. And with a lot of the season still left to be played, the Ponies are looking to keep improving and eventually playing a full 32 minutes at a high level.
"Butte Central is the No. 1 team in our conference and I thought that we showed (in the first half) that we can hang with them," Smith said. "But we aren't at that level for 32 minutes right now, but we showed we are capable."
Standing Rock led the Ponies with 13 points, while Connor added 10 of his own. Kafka also had six for the Ponies, while Smith and Corderro Strickland combined for six with three apiece.
Next up for the Ponies (2-4, 2-2) are two home games. HHS will host Browning on Friday at 7 p.m. and will host Conrad at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Havre 44, Lewistown 42
Lewistown 15 5 14 8 – 42
Havre 11 6 11 16 – 44
Lewistown – Bo Descheemaker 16, Keelan Phillips 3, Jorden Vinger 4, Kyle Parry 2, Shayne Durbin 4, Travis Gilskey 6,
Havre – Logan Conner 9, Ryan Myers 10, Kade Barsotti 2, Brandon Smith 11, Anfernee Standing Rock 8, Drew Kafka 4.
Butte Central 53, Havre 36
Havre 6 11 8 11 — 36
Central 6 15 16 16 — 53
Havre — Logan Connor 10, Brandon Smith 3, Anfernee Standing Rock 13, Drew Kafka 6, Corderro Strickland 3, Ryan Brandt 1.
Butte Central — Andy Ritter 6, Colin Hollow 8, Phil Antonioli 4, Aschan Richards 7, Jonathan Richards 24, Zach Kasperick 2, Alex Ritter 2.