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George Ferguson Column: Blue Pony girls have been on one historic run

From The Fringe...


March 20, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre head coach Dustin Kraske coaches his team during a time-out at last Friday's Class A semifinal game against Billings Central in Billings. In what has been an incredible three-year run by the Ponies, the Rams have been the only team in the state of Montana to beat them. In that same time, Havre has won a pair of state titles.

You know that old saying, all good things must come to an end? I guess, last Friday, in a way, that could be applied to the Havre High girls basketball team when they fell to the Billings Central Rams in the Class A semifinals.

It was the end of sorts for Havre in that, it wasn't going to win its third straight state championship, and that, the game was the last the Blue Ponies' five great seniors would play in a Havre High uniform.

Yes, in those two ways, the ride did come to an end, and I'm here to say, what an incredible ride it was.

For starters, winning two state championships is nothing to sneeze it. It's an impressive feat. But to do it back-to-back, the way the Ponies did in 2018 and 2019, that's even more impressive. They always say the hardest thing to do is repeat in sports, and what's even harder is sustained success.

But, that's exactly what the Blue Pony girls did over a nearly three-year span.

Of course, the records also speak for themselves. Not only did the Ponies win two state titles, but, from December of 2017 to last Friday, the only school that beat Havre in that time frame was the Rams. That's right, the Havre High girls have lost a grand total of three basketball games since the start of the 2017-18 season. Let that sink in.

Then there's those five seniors. What a group.

Obviously, and rightfully so, Kyndall Keller is going to go down as one of the greatest basketball players (male or female) in Havre history. That's a fact. She has simply been that good, and all of us who love hoops should feel lucky we got to watch her play the last four years.

But as a group, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more talented senior class of basketball players during this same four-year stretch then Keller, Kadia Miller, Katie Wirtzberger, Jessa Chvilicek and Sam Oliver. Together, that group will go down as one of the greatest group of senior players in any Havre High sport.

So again, that time in Havre High girls basketball has to come to an end, and that's sad, because what a special time it's been. In my humble opinion, it's been one of the most dominant three-year runs in Blue Pony sports history, and certainly in Class A girls basketball history.

But, with longtime head coach Dustin Kraske at the helm, that run is nowhere near over. It's not over because Kraske hasn't just built a team at HHS, he's built a program. And that's the difference - teams come and go, but programs last, and the Havre High girls are a highly successful program right now.

That's right, the Blue Ponies will be right back in the state championship hunt next winter. Most teams would be scared to death to graduate what Havre is graduating this year, and while Kraske and the program will certainly hate to say goodbye to those amazing seniors, the girls basketball cupboard inside the HHS gymnasium is by no means bare.

No, Havre was already well on its way to becoming a dynasty, when it won the 2014 state championship, and, while things didn't quite go Havre's way this time around, the ride isn't over.

A chapter is over, a page is being turned, but, the full Havre High girls basketball story has yet to be written. In fact, with how good of a program Havre has become, there's plenty of stories yet to be told.


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