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Ponies reach perfection

 

March 12, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Havre High girls prepare for the state championship parade Sunday afternoon in Havre. The Ponies brought back the Class A state championship from Great Falls after beating Hardin Saturday night.

GREAT FALLS - The Havre High girls basketball team defeated Hardin 42-35 Saturday night in Great Falls at the Four Seasons Arena to win the 2018 Class A state championship.

The victory wrapped up what has been a historic campaign for the Blue Ponies, who set several school records en route to their second state title in the past five years.

"I love these kids, I am proud of them," HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. "The city of Havre was here. Our community supports us, our parents are behind us, the kids know their roles. We are really excited."

At 24-0, the 2017-18 Pony girls are the only Havre basketball team, boys or girls, to go undefeated. The 24 victories also set a new school record and the 24-game winning streak also stands as the longest in school history.

"It's unbelievable to me," Kraske said of the undefeated season. "It's hard to describe it. I don't know, unbelievable."

While the Ponies got some great individual performances in the win over Hardin, as usual, it was the Havre defense that dominated. The Ponies held the high-powered Bulldogs to 35 points, two weeks after holding them to 34 to win the Eastern A Divisional championship.

On the other end of the floor, the Ponies didn't have their best offensive game of the season, but they made big shots when they needed to, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers by seniors Kaylee Nystrom and Marca Herron. Havre started the fourth quarter leading by one point, but triples from Nystrom and Herron helped put Havre up 11 with just a few minutes left in the game and the celebration was on in the Four Seasons.

"It feels really good," Nystrom said. "It's hard to explain. I am really glad I spent my senior year with this team. I am really happy."

Kyndall Keller led all scorers in the win for Havre, with a game-high 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half. Herron also reached double figures with 11. Danielle Wallace added seven and Nystrom finished with six.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Havre High girls celebrate after beating Hardin in the championship game Saturday night. The Ponies brought back the Class A state championship from Great Falls after beating Hardin Saturday night.

"I feel great, I feel awesome," Keller said. "It's crazy. It has been so much fun. I can't believe we actually did it."

The victory gave the Ponies their fifth state championship in girls basketball and the fourth at the Class A level. Havre won Class A in 1976, 1997, 2014 and now in 2018. HHS also won the girls Class AA state title in 1978. It was also the seventh title game appearance for Havre, which is now 5-2 in state championship games after getting second in both 1991 and 1995.

When it was all said and done, Kraske, a two-time state champion head coach and a state champion player with the Havre boys basketball team in 1994, reflected on his team's place in school history.

"Near the top, I hope," he said. "We love Havre High, we have had some good history here, in girls basketball particular. We have been good for a long time, since the 1990s until now. That's a long time, it's been an incredible run."

 

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