GREAT FALLS — A slow start to the postseason was not what the Havre High boys basketball team needed.
But after the first round of the Central A divisional tournament, the Blue Ponies will now look to navigate the consolation bracket and hope for a third-place finish and a possible challenge game.
Thursday night in Great Falls, the Central A Ponies faced the Livingston Rangers in a first-round game at the Central A basketball tournament. The No. 5 Rangers (7-12) defeated the No. 4 Ponies (5-14) 46-33 at the CMR Fieldhouse. With the loss the Ponies will have to wait until Saturday at 11 a.m. to play in the loser-out bracket. The Ponies will face the loser of the Belgrade/Lewistown matchup.
“I think that tonight had to do with experience,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “Once again, only two of these kids have played at divisionals and that first half, we couldn’t even execute a play that we have ran since the first day of practice. Everything together, I think was just too overwhelming for our boys. Now it is time to see how they respond.”
It is not always easy to bounce back from a slow offensive start. And even with the defense playing very well, the Ponies found that to be very true in their postseason debut.
Livingston only led the Ponies 7-6 after the first quarter of play. The HHS offense started 3-for-11 from the field in the first eight minutes, including 0-for-4 to start and trailing 5-0 in the first three minutes. But the defense held strong, holding the Rangers to a 3-for-12 start, and three turnovers in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Ponies, the Rangers began to heat up, while the Ponies remained ice cold in the first half. The Rangers outscored the Ponies 13-6 in the second frame, and the Ponies shot 21 percent from the field in the first half and just 10 percent from three-point range, 1-for-10 in the first half as well.
“That first quarter we played great defense,” Leeds said. “Offensively, we just didn’t move the ball, we didn’t execute, and we didn’t knock down our shots.”
But it wasn’t all bad on Thursday night, as the Ponies showed glimpses of what the young team is capable of.
To start the second half, the Ponies closed the gap on the Rangers. Jase Kato hit a short jumper inside to spark the Ponies, while Ramsey Drew added another two-point field goal, and Kade Rismon hit a mid-range jumper to finish off a 6-0 run by the Ponies. The Rangers lead had shriveled to 20-18 with six minutes left to play in the third quarter, but the Ponies inconsistencies were too much to overcome. The Rangers finished the third frame with a 13-3 run and pushed their lead to 33-21.
“We are capable of that,” Leeds said. “We are capable of playing like that for 32 minutes. It has just been up and down this season. Thurman (Holdsclaw) really came out in this game and played hard, and for the beginning of that second quarter, everybody matched his intensity. But it kind of tapered off a bit and we need everybody to step up and play with that enthusiasm the whole game.”
After the intensity tapered off, the Ponies were outscored 13-12 in the fourth quarter, as the Rangers cruised to the 13-point victory.
Dane Warp led the Ponies in scoring with 14 points, while Rismon added six, and Kato and Holdsclaw both added four points to help lead the Ponies. Holdsclaw and Kade Rismon also grabbed six rebounds each, while Nate Rismon’s three points came on one of the Ponies’ two treys on the evening. The Ponies were 2-of-13 for 15 percent from behind the arc.
HHS will have to play better on Saturday. The loser of the Belgrade/Lewistown matchup will be waiting for the Ponies, and if the Ponies hope to extend their season for at least a couple more games, they have to have a well rounded performance.
The Ponies will play at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the CMR Fieldhouse.
“These boys could beat anybody we play this weekend if we play together, and if we play hard,” Said Leeds.
Livingston 46, Havre 33
Havre 6 6 9 12 — 33
Livingston 7 13 13 13 — 46
Havre — Nate Rismon 3, Dane Warp 14, Ramsey Drew 2, Thurman Holdsclaw 4, Kade Rismon 6, Jase Kato 4. Totals: 14-48 3-8 33.
Livingston — Ladan Ricketts 7, Ryley Heidt 4, Jesse Darr 12, Daniel Fowlie 4, Colton Gavne 2, Marcus Payne 17. Totals 18-38 8-15 46.
Halftime: Livingston 20-12. 3-pointers Havre 2-13 (N. Rismon, Warp). Livingston 2-8 (Darr, Ricketts). Rebounds: Havre 27 (Holdsclaw 6, K. Rismon 6). Livingston 31 (Payne 9). Fouls: Havre 14, Livingston 11. Fouled out: None.