Havre boys basketball dominates Laurel to start the year
Last updated 12/5/2022 at 8:25am
It may not have been inside the friendly confines of Havre High Gymnasium, but the Havre High boys basketball team got the job done in its season opener Friday night. Against the Laurel Locomotives inside Armory Gymnasium on the Montana State University-Northern campus, the Blue Ponies dominated for a 72-44 win. As they finally got on the court this season, HHS head coach Walynn Burgess believes his team came out determined.
“The boys were really focused on what they wanted to do tonight,” Burgess said. “We understand that we have a lot of work that we’ve got to put in right now but for game one, we’re pretty happy with the way our energy was tonight.”
It was a team effort to win, but Xavier Butler had an excellent night to start the season. Against the Locomotives, Butler dominated the interior as he led the Ponies with 27 points. Despite the individual success, Butler made sure to credit his teammates.
“They’ve been finding me on wide-open back doors and cuts,” Butler said. “I’m not scoring that much without them so all the credit goes to them.”
The Ponies started the game strong as they jumped out to an 11-0 lead. After Jevin Jenkins made a layup to give the Ponies the lead, Butler knocked down a pair of shots. Tre Gary made a layup and Reid Kato knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 11-0 halfway through the first. Along with making their shots, the Ponies’ defensive pressure helped them take early momentum.
“The boys have really bought into knowing that we need to play defense,” Burgess said. “We knew that we needed to get better at our defensive end and if we truly wanted to have a chance to get back to the state tournament, we knew we had to turn it up on our defensive end.”
The Locomotives eventually got on the board, but the Ponies took a 13-5 lead into the second quarter. Butler continued to play well as he made back-to-back buckets to start the second. After a Laurel bucket, Gary and Kash Keller knocked down a pair of threes to stretch the lead to 23-8.
Over the next few minutes, the Ponies continued to play well to extend the lead to 30-12. The Locomotives went on a run to cut their deficit to 33-20 with just over a minute left in the half. Butler responded with a personal 5-0 run to maintain the lead. Right before the end of the half, Laurel’s Trey Hull scored to cut Havre’s lead to 38-22.
The Ponies started the third quarter strong as they pushed the lead to 43-24. But the Locomotives would not go away as they came back to cut their deficit to 47-35 late in the third. Thankfully for the Ponies, Gary knocked down a jump shot to give the Ponies a 49-35 lead heading to the fourth.
Looking to put the game away, the Ponies started the fourth on a 10-0 run. During this stretch, Shane Patacsil got hot with six points to help the Ponies build a 59-35 lead. From that point on, the Locomotives were unable to reduce their deficit to less than 20 points as the Ponies cruised to victory. After letting the Locomotives hang around in the second half, Burgess was happy to see his team put them away for good in the fourth.
“They understood what they were doing wrong and we understood that for us to be good, we can’t have lulls or ups and downs,” Burgess said. “It was good for them to realize it and fix it themselves without us having to really worry about it.”
With the dominant win, the Ponies open the season 1-0. Now that they have finally gotten on the courts, it was nice to see their hard work through the offseason pay off on opening night.
“The first win is always good,” Butler said. “We’re just going to keep on building and keep looking to get better through each day.”
But the Ponies still have a long season ahead with many tough opponents on the horizon. While the Ponies looked good on opening night, there is plenty of room to grow over the next few months.
“There’s plenty that we still need to work on,” Burgess said. “We know that it’s an everyday thing for us and we know that when we come back to work on Monday that we start back at zero and get ready for Billings Central.”
The HHS boys basketball team will tip off against Billings Central on the road this Saturday at 4 p.m.
Havre 72, Laurel 44
LAU - 5 17 13 9 - 44
HAV - 13 25 11 23 - 72
HAV - Xavier Butler 27, Shane Patascil 9, Carter Spangler 7, Tre Gary 7, Reid Kato 5, Jevin Jenkins 4, Kash Keller 3, Matt Huse 3, Ryker O'Leary 3, Crawford Terry 2, Jackson Headdress 2.