By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High boys basketball team got its season off to a scorching start last Saturday in Chinook.
The Ponies showed no signs of cooling down this past weekend as they picked up a pair of blowout wins over Belgrade and Livingston to open Central A conference play.
On Friday night, the Ponies stormed into the Belgrade Special Events center and got a 21-point night from junior Jared Weigel as well as a solid defensive effort to hold the Panthers down, 63-44.
In the early going, Havre shot the ball extremely well and raced out to a 19-11 lead. Despite being outscored in the second period, the Ponies still maintained a 31-26 lead at intermission. The third quarter is where the Ponies put the game out of reach, as they outscored the Panthers 17-8 and never let them back into the contest.
"We played really solid on both ends of the floor in Belgrade," said Havre High first-year head coach John Barnhorst. "We did a really nice job of moving the ball and getting good open shots. Our effort was also very good on the defensive end. We were concerned about their post play and we did a really good job with that."
Weigel's 21 points led all scorers and he hit three three-pointers on the night. The Ponies also got another solid outing from senior Ty Hedalen who scored 10 points. Senior Gary Wagner chipped in with a solid 12 points. Belgrade was paced by Rick Brown with 12 points and Zach Halgren added 11.
On Saturday night, the Ponies' winning ways carried right into Livingston as they dismantled the Runnin' Rangers 91-60. The Ponies used a 26-13 first quarter lead to springboard themselves to a lead that Livingston could never overcome.
Like Friday night in Belgrade, the third quarter did the Runnin' Rangers in, as Havre exploded for 35 points to erase any hopes of a Livingston comeback.
"Once again we played really well offensively," Barnhorst said. "Gary Wagner and Ty Hedalen are both playing with a lot of confidence right now, and Marc Mariani and Jared Weigel both had great all-around games for us both nights."
Hedalen led four Blue Ponies in double figures with a game high 24 points. Wagner had another solid night shooting the ball as he poured in 13 points. Weigel and Mike Barton added 12 points a piece. Mike McNamee and Jay Hardesty each scored 12 points to leads the Rangers.
The two wins this weekend put the Ponies at 3-0 and 2-0 in the Central A conference. While Barnhorst knows that his team is off to a hot start, he is also a little shocked at how well the Ponies are playing this early in the season.
"These were a big pair of wins for us because the next time we play them we get them at home," Barnhorst said. "So it puts us in a really good position in the conference standings.
"I am a little surprised at how great we are playing so far," he added. "But it is a direct result of these guys coming into the season with such a great attitude and a credit to how hard they have worked so far."
The Ponies will return home for a Central A showdown with rival Browning on Friday night. Havre will also finish up the 2004 portion of its schedule with a trip to Great Falls High on Saturday night.
Havre 63, Belgrade 44
Havre 19 12 17 15 - 63
Belgrade 11 15 8 10 - 44
Havre - Marc Mariani 5, Coda Tchida 4, Gary Wagner 12, Jared Weigel 21, Jeremy Giardina 5, Ty Hedalen 10, Mike Barton 6.
Belgrade - Kolten Knatterud 1, Derrick Samuelson 3, Rick Brown 12, Ben Ward 2, Zach Halgren 11, Rex Martin 9, Brad Westmorland 6.
Total fouls - Havre 15, Belgrade 13. Fouled out - none. Three point goals - Havre 6 (Mariani, Wagner, Weigel 3, Giardina), Belgrade 1 (Samuelson).
Havre 91, Livingston 60
Havre 26 21 36 8 - 91
Livingston 13 22 22 13 - 60
Havre - Patch Wirtzberger 8, Marc Mariani 6, Coda Tchida 2, Jeremy Giardina 6, Gary Wagner 13, Jared Weigel 12, Tyson Parman 3, Ty Hedalen 24, Mike Barton 12.
Livingston - Ryan Wulf 3, Johnny Kaiser 2, Bay Carter 4, Craig Hutchinson 6, Mychael McNamee 12, Mike Benvenga 8, Scottie Schleicher 3, Andrew Foster 3, Jay Hardesty 12, Greg Knupp 3, Carl Berntsen 4.