Going into Thursday night’s game, the Havre High defense was not an area of concern, but more an area of focus.
And even with a loss, the Blue Pony defense made a statement
The Central A Ponies hosted the Class AA Great Falls High Bison at the Havre High gymnasium on Thursday night. The Bison defeated the Ponies 51-32 in non-conference play, dropping the Ponies’ overall record to 3-9.
“We need to figure out how to hold some of these teams like we did tonight,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “Against some teams our man is a better defense, like against Livingston and Belgrade. But these Browning, Great Falls High, and CMR teams, I think our zone defense is a little better. But not having Thurman Holdsclaw here, that hurts, he is real spark on defense.”
Holdsclaw did not play Thursday night, and his defensive presence was missed. But the Ponies still made it very difficult for the Bison offense to get anything easy. In recent losses, the Ponies have struggled to keep the competition below 60 points, but even the hig- octane Bison guards found it tough to light up the scoreboard against the Ponies’ zone defense.
The Bison were held to just 23 points in the first half. They struggled from behind the three-point arc, and even committed six turnovers. The HHS defense kept the Ponies in contention, but Havre just couldn’t things rolling on the offensive end of the floor. The Ponies trailed by just nine points at the break, but couldn’t close the gap.
Offensively, the Ponies continued to play relatively patient offense, maybe even too patient at times playing from behind. But they found open looks from 3-point range, as well as got great penetration from Ramsey Drew and Dane Warp. But with the shots falling, the Ponies even found it hard to get to the free throw line. In the first half the Ponies didn’t shoot one free throw, while in the second half, they shot just eight free throws. The Ponies hit five from the charity stripe.
Warp led the Ponies with 12 points. Nate Rismon, Drew, and Jase Kato all followed with four points each.
“Going into the half down nine,” Leeds said. “I thought our kids had a chance to battle back. We just didn’t do a good job of executing, and that is a complement of coach (Bob) Howard. He kept mixing up his defense, and every time I called out a play, he shifted the zone. It is tough to execute against that.”
Eventually, the Bison were able to gain too much ground on the Ponies, even with HHS’s strong defensive showing. The Bison scored 14 in the third quarter and 14 more in the fourth.
The Ponies also held their own on the boards. The Bison racked up 31 total rebounds, but the Ponies weren’t too far behind with 24 total rebounds.
It is short turnaround, as the Ponies face another tough Class AA team on Saturday. HHS will travel to Great Falls to face CMR on Saturday night. The Ponies host Malta on Tuesday.
Great Falls High 51, Havre 32
Great Falls 11 12 14 14 – 51
Havre 6 8 10 8 – 32
Great Falls – Lukas Vining 7, Kolby Sukat 5, Stan Gopher 6, Dylan Tatarka 9, Racine Larance 8, Matt Wyman 9, Jace Anderegg 5, Bryce Clark 2.
Havre – Nate Rismon 4, Jon Faber 3, Dane Warp 12, Brian Smith 3, Ramsey Drew 4, Kade Rismon 2, Jase Kato 4.