After a couple of close calls early in the year, the Havre High boys basketball team was still winless through the first five games of the season. But knowing they had two winnable games over the weekend, the Blue Ponies knew this was their chance to get rolling.
And the Central A Ponies did just that, as they improved their overall record to 2-5 and their conference record to 1-2.
On Friday, the Ponies hosted the conference rival Lewistown Golden Eagles and recorded their first win of the season. HHS defeated the Eagles 60-53. But following suit, the Ponies earned their second win of the season on Saturday against the Class B Shelby Coyotes, winning 57-34.
“It felt great to get a win,” Havre High’s Kade Rismon said. “Especially with how close we were a couple times in the first part of the season. Hopefully this will give us some momentum and it feels really good to have a conference win.”
Saturday was also the first meeting between the Ponies and Coyotes since first year head coach Curt Leeds left the Shelby program and took over as the HHS head coach.
“Lewistown was a really good win for us,” Leeds said. “It really boosted the confidence in the boys. And it did (carry over), our defense intensity stayed high against Shelby and kids were really shooting the ball with confidence. But once again, I really think that win over Shelby was huge for the boys and for their confidence.”
Hosting the Eagles Friday night, the Ponies put together one of their more complete games of the season.
The offense was able to get a balanced attack, while the defense was able to come up with big stops against a big and physical Eagles’ squad. Dane Warp has led the Pony attack all year, but didn’t have to carry as much of the load, finishing with 14 points. Ramsey Drew led all scorers with 17 points, while Kade Rismon followed with 16 and Nate Rismon finished with six. Thurman Holdsclaw also added five, while Kody Kickman scored two points for HHS.
But the Pony offense didn’t produce in a steady fashion, as they had to overcome a third-quarter slump to emerge with the win. The defense was also challenged in the third, as the Eagles posted 20 points.
After leading 14-11 in the first quarter, and stretching the gap to 30-20 at the break, the Eagles took advantage of the Pony shooting slump. HHS held a 37-24 lead after the first three minutes of the frame, but in another three-minute gap, the Eagles outscored the Ponies 14-4, as the Ponies were finding open shots, but just couldn’t convert.
The Ponies also had six turnovers in the frame, allowing the Eagles to easily score in transition.
“We really just needed to take care of the ball better,” Leeds said. “Most of our games have come down to turnovers, we are shooting a high percentage when we actually take the shot, but we just have to limit our turnovers. We did that in the fourth quarter.”
Fortunately for Havre, the Ponies were able to emerge from the slump and get going in the fourth quarter. The Ponies outscored Lewistown 17-13 and grabbed the seven-point victory.
Facing Shelby on the road, the Ponies continued to play at a very high level, as they earned their second much needed win.
The Coyote defense put the most emphasis on Drew and Warp, and that freed up a lot of other HHS shooters. And the open players took advantage, as nine Blue Ponies got in the books, as they posted double digits in all but the second quarter (nine points). Warp still led with 12 points, but Holdsclaw followed with 11, and Kade Rismon followed with 10. Nate Rismon and Brian Smith combined for 12 more.
“They (Coyotes) ran a triangle-and-two against Ramsey Drew and Dane Warp,” Leeds said. “That really freed up some of our other shooters like Brian Smith to get open looks and knock down some shots. That was the best thing they could have done for us. That got our kids more evolved that haven’t been early, and gave them confidence in their shooting. But that is what we need, consistent scoring.”
The Ponies earned two wins in convincing fashion. They know they still have a lot of work to do, but the Ponies took a couple big steps forward. They got scoring from all over the lineup and played well on defense. Moving forward the Ponies will look to keep up the solid play on both sides of the ball, still looking for that well balanced style of play.
HHS will continue play on Friday when the Ponies face Browning on the road. The Ponies return home on Saturday to host Conrad.
Havre 60, Lewistown 53
Lewistown 11 9 20 13 – 53
Havre 14 16 13 17 – 60
Lewistown – Tre Bradley 2, Brock Butcher 2, Morgan Ray 4, James Derheim 11, Dylan Stenseth 14, Logan Wilcox 9, Andy Butcher 11. Totals 17 15-18.
Havre – Kody Hickman 2, Nate Rismon 6, Dane Warp 14, Ramsey Drew 17, Thurman Holdsclaw 5, Kade Rismon 16. Totals 23 8-15.
Total fouls – Lewistown 17, Havre 17. Fouled out – Brian Smith (H). 3-pointers – Derheim, Stenseth 2, Wilcox 2, N. Rismon, Warp 2, Drew 3.
Havre 57, Shelby 34
Havre 14 9 15 19 – 57
Shelby 9 1 12 12 – 34
Havre – Nate Rismon 6, Kade Rismon 10, Thurman Holdsclaw 11, Spencer Ross 3, Brian Smith 6, Ramsey Drew 3, Jase Kato 2, Dane Warp 12, Jonathan Faber 2.
Shelby – no statistics available