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Pony girls survive Hamilton scare at state tournament


Colin Thompson

Kaylee Nystrom drives to the hoop in the first round of the Class A state tournament in Great Falls Thursday at the Four Seasons Arena. Havre hung on for a 43-39 win. The Ponies will play either Belgrade or Browning in the state semifinals Friday night at 6:30.

When it comes to postseason basketball, style points don't matter and that's a good thing for the Havre High girls basketball team, because there was nothing pretty about the Blue Ponies 43-39 win over Hamilton Thursday in the opening round of the Class A state tournament.

The two teams met in the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls in a rematch of the 2014 state championship game. Havre (22-0) came into the game as the heavy favorite, but Hamilton, the fourth-seeded team from the Western A gave the Ponies all they could handle.

The Broncs tied the game late in the fourth quarter thanks to a 3-pointer by Tessa Della Silva, but a free throw by Danielle Wallace made it 40-39 Havre with just eight seconds remaining.

Hamilton advanced the ball into the frontcourt and used its last timeout with just over four seconds to play. However, as the Broncs went to inbound the ball, head coach Mark Albert inexplicably called a timeout and was whistled for a technical foul. Havre got two free throws and possession of the ball. Kyndall Keller made two at the line, Wallace made another and Havre held on 43-39.

"Mark is a great coach and I felt really bad for him," HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. "That's a tough way to lose a game. His kids played great and they had a great game plan, so that's a credit to them."

Havre led 18-13 after the first quarter, but was outscored 5-0 in the second to send the game into the half tied up at 18-18. Kadia Miller and Kylie Walker each hit 3-pointers in the third to help HHS take a 29-26 lead into the fourth quarter, where Havre was able to escape with a four-point win.

Keller led the way for Havre with 14 points. Kyley Verploegen added eight and Miller finished with seven. Lauren Ryter led Hamilton with 12 in the loss. Havre will play Browning or Belgrade in the Class A semifinals Friday night at 6:30.


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