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Ponies power past Broncs in opener

Havre High marches into Class A semis after crushing Hamilton


March 13, 2020

406 Sports

Havre's Kyndall Keller looks to score during Thursday's Class A state tournament game against the Hamilton Broncs inside the Metra in Billings. Havre beat Hamilton to advance to tonight's semifinals.

After coming out of the Eastern A with the No. 3 seed, the Havre High girls basketball team was ready to continue the quest for the three-peat at the 2020 Class A girls state tournament at the First Interstate Bank Arena at the Metra in Billings.

The Blue Ponies first challenge came Thursday afternoon against the Hamilton Broncs, a team that Havre has met before in the first round of state in recent years and that last meeting saw the Broncs give the Ponies a first-round scare. But this time, Havre took care of business and stampeded Hamilton 62-33.

With a ticket to the semifinals punched, the Ponies continue the climb to the top and HHS head coach Dustin Kraske is pleased with his team’s efforts Thursday.

“I thought we played really well,” Kraske said. “We moved the ball well, defended well and gave the extra pass. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the first half, but then we shot well in the second. I thought our kids played great.”

The blue and white kicked off the bout against the Broncs on the right track. Seniors Kadia Miller and Kyndall Keller opened up the offensive spark, while sophomore Sadie Filius helped Havre rack up turnovers. The Ponies played a suffocating defense to force multiple turnovers at half-court to help them take a 10-4 lead over Hamilton after the first quarter.

In the second stanza, the Broncs closed the score within four points, but HHS went on a 13-3 run throughout the quarter. Sam Oliver, Katie Wirtzberger and Jessa Chvilicek all chipped in to put up points, while Hamilton fought to stay with them, but the Ponies led comfortably 27-13 at halftime.

Kraske noticed that his team was particularly strong in a certain aspect of the game against the Broncs, too.

“Defensively, both teams stood out,” Kraske said.

After the intermission, Havre came back out and stayed consistent, opening the third period with a 14-0 run to drive forward early on. The Broncs dropped seven points in the quarter, but the Ponies added another bucket to total them 16 going into the final eight minutes.

From there, the fourth stanza saw HHS drop 19 points, with players like Quinn McDonald, Yelena Miller and Loy Waid putting up baskets of their own throughout. Hamilton countered with a 13-point performance, but the Blue Pony lead was too much and Havre secured its first win of the state tournament.

Keller led HHS with 13 points, followed by Kadia Miller and her 12-point game.

But now, the Blue Ponies will face an Eastern A rival in the semifinals tonight in the No. 1 Billings Central Rams. Central has an undefeated record against Havre in recent years, so HHS will look to overcome the obstacle that they did not in the Eastern A semis.

Even so, Kraske is looking forward to the rematch against the Rams tonight in the Metra.

“It’ll be a fun game,” Kraske said. “We’re looking forward to playing with them. They have a nice team and we have a nice team. It should be a ton of fun.”

Havre faces off against Billings Central in likely another barn-burner tonight at 6:30 in the Metra for a semifinal showdown. If the Ponies win, they head to the championship game for a third year in a row, but a loss sends them to consolation and a battle for third place.

Havre 62, Hamilton 33

HAV 10 17 16 19 – 62

HAM 4 9 7 13 – 33

HAV – Kyndall Keller 13, Sam Oliver 4, Yelena Miller 2, Quinn McDonald 3, Katie Wirtzberger 5, Sadie Filius 8, Jessa Chvilicek 6, Kadia Miller 12, Avery Carlson 2, Loy Waid 5, Kylie Walker 3.

HAM – Katelyn Dickemore 2, Brynnli Poulsen 3, Maggie Ringer 1, Layne Kearns 13, Kylee Brackman 5, Taryn Searle 9.


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