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A2

2018 Class A

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

Monday, March 26, 2018

www.havredailynews.com

State champion Ponies clean up on postseason awards Three Havre High girls named Class A All-State, six earn AllConference Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com After a historic season that included an undefeated record, an Eastern A Divisional title and a Class A state title, the Havre girls basketball team dominated the postseason awards like it dominated the entire season. When the Class A All-State team was finalized, it had a heavy Blue Pony presence as Kyndall Keller, Marca Herron and Danielle Wallace all earned All-State honors. All three players were also named First Team All-Conference in the Central A. For Keller, it was her second straight year on the All-State team and she played her way onto the team after averaging 18.1 points per game, which ranked second in Class A. She also ranked in the top five in Class A in 3-point shooting after posting a 41 percent mark from deep. She also averaged 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and more than two steals per game. Wallace and Herron, both seniors, received All-State honors for the first time. Wallace finished the season scoring 10 points per game, to go along with a team high 7.1 rebounds per game. Herron was the Ponies’ third-leading scorer at 8.8 per game. She also was second in the state in 3-point shooting percentage at 44 and also averaged more than three assists per game. Another Havre senior, Kaylee Nystrom, also got some postseason honors, as she was named Second-Team All-Conference in the Central A. Nystrom is known as one of the top defensive players in Class A and averaged 6.7 points, 4.2 rebounds

Honorable Mention - Kyley Verploegen, Sr., Havre, Hannah Gee, Sr., Belgrade, Kadia Miller, So., Havre, Danielle Babcox, Jr., Livingston Coach of the year: Dustin Kraske, Havre

Miller

Southwestern A

Verploegen

and 3.7 steals per game, as well as 3.4 assists per game. Nystrom also hit a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter of the state championship game, which helped HHS knock off Hardin 42-35. However, the Ponies weren’t done, as both senior Kyley Verploegen and Kadia Miller earned All-Conference honorable mention. Verploegen, a senior, averaged 4.4 points and five rebounds, while Miller, a sophomore, who started every game this season for the Ponies, scored 4.6 points and grabbed 3.8 rebounds. She also turned into one of Havre’s top defensive players by season’s end. Joining Keller, Wallace and Herron on the All-State team were Gabby Weber of Belgrade, Cariann Kunkel of Hamilton, Khloe Thatcher of Butte Central, Brynley Fitzgerald of Dillon, Alivia Williams of Frenchtown, Micalann McCrea of Ronan, Dani Douglas and Hannah Gedlaman of Columbia Falls, as well as Ronnal Jordan of Browning. The others that made the Class A All-State team were Aspen Cotter of Laurel, Karissa DuShane and Sharmayne Hardy, both of Hardin, along with Olivia Moten-Schell of Billings Central. Class A girls basketball * indicates all-state selection Central A

First team - *Cariann Kunkel, Sr., Hamilton, *Kloie Thatcher, Sr., Butte Central, *Brynley Fitzgerald, Sr., Dillon, *Alivia Williams, Sr., Frenchtown , Megan Michelotti, Sr., Butte Central Second team - Lauren Ryter, Sr., Hamilton, Tessa Della Silva, Sr., Hamilton, Kylie Willett, Sr., Frenchtown, Megan Delaney, Sr., Frenchtown, Angel Richards, Jr., Stevensville Coach of the year: Mark Albert, Hamilton Northwestern A First team - *Micalann McCrea, Sr., Ronan, *Dani Douglas, Sr., Columbia Falls, *Ronnal Jordan, Sr., Browning, *Hannah Gedlaman, Sr., Columbia Falls, Olivia Hall, Sr., Browning Second team - Jayden Winslow, Jr., Libby, Ryley Kehr, Jr., Columbia Falls, Shannon Reny, Sr., Libby, Tamika Guardipee, So., Browning, Dulci Skunkcap, So., Browning Co-coaches of the year: Cary Finberg, Columbia Falls; Ray Augare, Browning Eastern A First team - *Aspen Cotter, Jr., Laurel, *Karissa DuShane, Sr., Hardin, *Sharmayne Hardy, Sr., Hardin, *Olivia Moten-Schell, So., Billings Cen-

First team - *Gabby Weber, So., Belgrade, *Kyndall Keller, So., Havre, *Marca Herron, Sr., Havre, *Danielle Wallace, Sr., Havre, Anna Zimmer, Jr., Lewistown

tral, Karsen Murphy, So., Glendive

Second team - Kodie Vondra, Fr., Livingston, Hanna Hayes, Sr., Lewistown, Bailey Christensen, Jr., Belgrade, Kaylee Nystrom, Sr., Havre, Kiah Hohenstein, Sr., Belgrade

rie Five, So., Hardin, Kyra Oakland, Jr., Miles

Second team - Aiyana Ereaux, Sr., Hardin, MaCity, Sammi Spitzer, So., Laurel, Savannah Toms, So., Glendive.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Above: Havre High sophomore Kyndall Keller, right, was named Class A All-State for the second straight season. Keller was one of the top scorers in all of Montana this season. Below left: Havre High senior Danielle Wallace earned Class A All-State honors this season. Wallace was regarded as one of the top post players in Class A this winter. Below right: Havre senior Marca Herron had a big season for the Blue Ponies and was honored with All-State and First-Team All-Conference honors. In all, the state champion Blue Ponies had six All-Conference and three All-State awards this season.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Kaylee Nystrom, left, was named Central A Second-Team All-Conference after helping the Blue Ponies win the state championship last weekend in Great Falls. Published 3-16-2018


A3

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

THE HAVRE HIGH GIRLS CAP AN UNDEFEATED SEASON WITH A HARDFOUGHT WIN OVER THE PESKY HARDIN BULLDOGS IN THE 2018 CLASS A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME SATURDAY INSIDE THE FOUR SEASONS ARENA Chris Peterson

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

IT'S PONY PERFECT

www.havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com GREAT FALLS — Like two prize fighters, the Havre Blue Ponies and Hardin Bulldogs battled it out for the Class A state championship Saturday night. But despite landing some punches, it was Havre, not Hardin, which scored the knockout. The biggest blows came from Kaylee Nystrom and Marca Herron, two Havre seniors who combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s championship game. Those points, including one 3-pointer by each player, sealed a 42-35 win for the Ponies Saturday night at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. The victory completed a remarkable run for the Ponies, who finished the season 24-0, winning their second Class A state championship in the past five years. “I love these kids, I am proud of them,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “The city of Havre was here. Our community supports us, our parents are behind us, the kids know their roles, we’re really excited.” “I feel overwhelmed,” Herron added. “I feel a rush of emotions, but we deserved it, we worked hard for it. I just knew at the end of the game that this was ours.” Herron certainly played a key role in making sure the state title ended up going to Havre. After three quarters, in a defensive slugfest, Havre led Hardin by the slimmest of margins entering the last eight minutes, with the score 24-23. Both teams were struggling to score, as the defensive pressure on both ends was amped up all game. However, in the final stanza, Herron and Nystrom took over. It started in the final minute of the third quarter, when Karissa DuShane of Hardin had a basket taken off the board because Herron took a charge and drew the offensive foul. A few seconds later, she made a free throw at the other end to put Havre in front 24-23. In the fourth, after another free throw, Herron scored on an up-and-under to push the Ponies advantage to four. Herron added another point on the foul line, her fifth in a row, putting Havre up 28-23. Less than a minute later, Havre would land one of its biggest blows yet. Following a defensive stop, the ball went ahead to Danielle Wallace, who found a streaking Nystrom wide open in the corner. The defensive standout launched the 3-pointer and when it ripped through the net, the stands erupted, as Havre took a 31-23 lead with just 5:22 remaining. “Holy cow, I just had to go up with it," Nystrom said. "I just knew I had to be confident in myself. I trusted it to go in and it did." Nystrom’s dagger was the first big blow landed by Havre in the fourth quarter, but it wouldn’t be the last. After Nystrom hit two free throws to push the Pony lead to 33-25, it was Herron’s turn to try a big three and with 4:05 left in the game, she delivered, connecting from beyond the arc to put the Ponies in front 36-25. It also capped a 19-4 Havre run, which started in third quarter as Hardin scored just seven points in the first 12 minutes of the second half. "I was a little nervous because I was a little too open," Herron said. "I thought to myself I better make this. But once I caught the ball, my feet were in rhythm and I just let it fly." Herron, who missed a gametying 3-pointer with a minute left in the Class A semifinals in 2015 against Hamilton, scored nine in the fourth quarter, including the 3-pointer she said was the biggest of her career. "I would say so," Herron said. "That is a little payback for Hamilton I would say. “They mean everything to our program and it shows,” Kraske said of Nystrom and Herron. “They are the heart and soul of our team basically, those two along with our other seniors. They work hard and they get other kids in the gym. They have been a huge part of our success.” Despite being down by 11 points, Hardin refused to go down without a fight. The Bulldogs trimmed the lead to five points with 1:28 left, but two free throws from Herron, a free throw from Kyley Verploegen, another from Nystrom and two from Kadia Miller iced the win for HHS.

“It feels pretty good,” Verploegen said of the win. “We have worked hard for four years, all summer, and it just finally paid off. It was a rough game. Things didn’t go our way some of the time, but we found a way to push through.” It certainly wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning for the Ponies. After seeing each other two weeks ago in the Eastern A Divisional championship game, also won by Havre, both the Bulldogs and Ponies knew what to expect and both defenses were ready. Wallace and Kyndall Keller got Havre on the board early. Keller finished the first quarter with four points, but five in the opening quarter from Arena Plenty gave Hardin a 9-8 lead. “It was rough, but it was a good game,” Wallace said. “It was a lot of pressure. The noise was kind of scary, but we worked through it. It feels great. We worked really hard for this.” Keller made two free throws early in the second quarter to put Havre up 11-9, but another bucket from Plenty tied it at 1111. The Ponies then scored five of the next six points, including the only field goal in that span, a put back by Verploegen, which made it 17-12 Havre with 3:19 left in period. Yet, a 6-0 run to close the quarter by the Bulldogs, gave them an 18-17 lead at the break, sending the Ponies into halftime trailing for just the second time in 24 games. “It was tough and I was nervous at some points,” Keller said. “But we kept our cool and kind of got the momentum back.” Havre did eventually get the momentum back, but it didn’t happen right away in the third quarter. Aiyanna Ereaux of Hardin got a hoop and was fouled by Miller, which was the third on the sophomore. Ereaux missed the free throw, but the Bulldogs still had their biggest lead of the game, 21-17. Facing its largest deficit of the state tournament, Havre responded. First, Nystrom found Wallace inside for two. Then, around a minute later, Keller ripped down an offensive rebound and scored in traffic to tie the score, 21-21, with 4:14 in third. It was also the start of the 19-4 run that allowed the Ponies to take control of the game. “I think our senior leaders do a great job,” Keller said. “They did a great job of helping us keep our cool.” Keller, an All-State sophomore, finished with a game-high 12 points, 10 of which came in the first half. She also grabbed nine rebounds and blocked a shot. Herron was right behind her with 11 points, to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Wallace, another senior, added seven points and four boards, while Nystrom finished with six points, five rebounds and three

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High's Kyndall Keller, left, looks for room during Saturday night's Class A state championship game between the Blue Ponies and Hardin Bulldogs in Great Falls. Havre beat Hardin to win its second state championship in the last five years. For more coverage, see Page B2 and B6. For more photos for the Class A state tournament, visit www.havredailynews.com. assists. “They are a good team,” Nystrom said of Hardin. “They came out really hard. They are really athletic and they came out with more energy and we had to match that.” While key buckets delivered the knockout punch to the Bulldogs, Havre won the game and the state championship with defense. The Ponies held Hardin to 15.9 percent from the field, limiting the Bulldogs to 7-of-44 from the field and 3-of-18 from 3-point range. HHS dominated Hardin, but did something similar to Browning Friday night in the semifinals. The Indians scored a couple of quick buckets early, but then Keller and the Havre defense took over. A 3-pointer from Keller gave the Ponies an 8-4 lead after the first quarter. HHS then outscored Browning 17-1 in the second quarter to take a 25-5 halftime lead. Led by Keller’s 25 points, Havre won easily, 53-29, setting up its state-title showdown with Hardin. Defense was a huge part of the win over Browning, too, as Havre limited the Indians to just 23.4 percent from the field. Over three days in the Class A state tournament, Havre limited teams to 33 points a game. And in the semifinals and championship game, against Browning and Hardin, the Ponies allowed their opponents to make just 18-of-92 shots for a shooting percentage of 19 percent. “What I appreciate about these kids is they let us coach them and we coach them hard,” Kraske said. “They take it and it’s nothing personal, we are trying to get better for the Ponies and they bought into it. Not that we haven’t in the past, but the highest level that this team could perform was a state championship. We kind of knew that and they performed at that level. Very impressive.” The win was the second consecutive state championship for Havre at the Four Seasons Arena. The Class A state tournament was last played there in 2014, when the Ponies beat Hamilton for the crown. “We love playing in the barn,” Kraske said. With back-to-back state titles, it certainly seems like they do.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Above: Havre's Marca Herron, right, drives by the Hardin defense during Saturday night's Class A championship game in Great Falls. Below: Havre senior Kaylee Nystrom and Blue Pony head coach Dustin Kraske celebrate the closing seconds of Saturday night's state title game in Great Falls. Havre beat Hardin in the championship game to finish off a perfect season. For more photo galleries of the Blue Ponies, go to www.havredailynews.com.

24-0 AND STATE CHAMPS AGAIN IN THE FOUR SEASONS ARENA Havre 53, Browning 29, SF Browning 4 1 8 16 - 29 Havre 8 17 8 20 - 53 Browning: Danaiya Polk 4, Lacie Goss 2, Olivia Hall 4, Taylor Jordan 3, Ronnal Jordan 4, Dulci Skunkcap 11, Tatum Running Crane 1. Totals: 11 6-18. Havre: Ryen Olson 1, Kyndall Keller 25, Kylie Walker 2, Kaylee Nystrom 1, Kadia Miller 5, Marca Herron 9, Katie Wirtzberger 2, Danielle Wallace 4, Loy Waid 2, Kyley Verploegen 2. Totals: 18 15-24. 3-pointers: Polk, Keller, Miller. Fouls: Browning 20, Havre 17. Fouled out: T. Jordan. Havre 42, Hardin 35, 1st Hardin 9 9 5 12 - 35 Havre 8 9 7 18 - 42 Hardin: Ivery Fitzler 3, Sharmayne Hardy 1, Karissa DuShane 10, Aiyanna Ereaux 9, Bergan Realbird 2, Arena Plenty 7, Marie Five 3. Totals: 7 18-24. Havre: Kyndall Keller 12, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Kadia Miller 4, Marca Herron 11, Danielle Wallace 7, Kyley Verploegen 2. Totals: 11 18-32. 3-pointers: Fitzler, DuShane, Plenty, Herron, Nystrom. Fouls: Hardin 27, Havre 20. Fouled out: Hardy, DuShane, Verploegen. Published 3-12-2018


A4

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Ponies’ season one for the ages Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com GREAT FALLS — The Havre High girls basketball team won the Class A state championship this past weekend in Great Falls and the fact that the Blue Ponies won their second state title in four years should come as a surprise to no one. All year long, it was easy to see that the Ponies were the best team in Class A and the truth is, it wasn’t close. There were a couple of scares along the way, particularly from Hamilton, but for the most part, this Pony team was simply head and shoulders above the rest. The fact is, this Havre squad has everything you need to be successful. With five seniors, the Ponies had plenty of experience, but the talent was there, too, as all five had been seeing varsity minutes since their sophomore years. In Marca Herron, Kaylee Nystrom, Danielle Wallace, Kyley Verploegen and Ryen Olson, the Ponies had a special group of seniors, one that on its own, might have been good enough to win it all. But what made Havre really special was its incredible blend of youth and experience, star players and depth. While Havre played five seniors, it also started two sophomores, Kyndall Keller and Kadia Miller, plus other underclassmen such as Kylie Walker, Katie Wirtzberger and Loy Waid also saw key minutes. Yet, what’s even more impressive, is what head coach Dustin Kraske was able to do with all the pieces he was given. For years, Kraske has been a proven winner and even before this season, he was unquestionably one of the elite high school coaches in the state of Montana. Since he took over as head coach before the 2006-07 season, the Ponies have been a staple at the Class A state tournament, qualifying 11 times in the last 12 years. He has won a bunch of divisional championships, including the Eastern A this season and now two Class A state titles. Certainly, he has been blessed with a lot of talent and not just this season. But at the same time, regardless of who has played for him, his formula of winning with defense has stood the test of time and this past weekend was probably the greatest example yet.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre's Danielle Wallace backs down a Browning defender during Friday night's Class A semifinals in Great Falls. The Blue Ponies dominated Browning on both ends of the floor, on their way to a record-setting state championship. Of course, it was hard not to be reminded of the 2014 team, which used a similar formula to capture a state championship, but the defensive dominance of the Havre girls basketball team reached an entirely new level at the Four Seasons Friday and Saturday night. The first game against Hamilton was the biggest challenge, but the Ponies still held the Broncs under 40 points. In all three games, Havre’s opponents scored an average of just 34 points. But what’s even more incredible is the shooting percentages allowed by Havre, particularly in the semifinals and state championship game. After narrowly escaping Ham-

ilton Thursday, the Ponies were razor sharp against Browning Friday night. Keller dominated offensively, scoring 25 points and showcasing why she might just be the best player in Class A girls basketball. On the other end of the floor, though, the Havre defense was even more dominant. More dominant than any high school basketball team I’ve ever seen. The Indians scored a bucket to the game 4-4 with around three minutes left in the first quarter. They wouldn’t make another field goal for the rest of the first half. Havre closed on a 21-1 run and the game was over. Browning wasn’t just beaten, it was demoralized.

In that first half against Browning, Havre limited the Indians to 2-of-20 shooting or 10 percent from the field. In any game, let alone a state tournament, that is unheard of. For the game, Browning shot 23.4 percent. But as good as Havre was Friday, it was equally good Saturday. While the Ponies struggled offensively, scoring just 42 points and turning the ball over 21 times, the defense won the day. For the second straight night, Havre held an opponent to 10 percent shooting in the first half, as the Bulldogs mirrored Browning’s 2-of-20 performance. When the championship game concluded, Hardin had made just 7-of-44

shot attempts or 15.9 percent of their shots. Over the course of the two games against Hardin and Browning, the Havre defense allowed just 18 field goals in 92 attempts (19.5 percent), a number that seems almost impossible, unless you have watched Havre play with any regularity. When you watch the Pony girls, seeing a team go 10 minutes without a bucket, isn’t an irregular occurrence. In addition to having a dominant defense, the Ponies also had one of, if not the best offenses in Class A with an average of 60 points a night. Keller was a big part of that. The AllState sophomore averaged 18.1

points during the season and in the state tournament, she averaged 17, including a 10-of-21 performance against Browning and a game-high 12 points in the title game. Along with Herron, one of the top 3-point shooters in the state and Danielle Wallace, a doubledigit scorer inside, Havre is difficult to guard, especially with the way Nystrom, Miller, Verploegen and others run the floor and attack the basket. The bottom line is in the history of Havre basketball, few teams have ever been as dominant as the 2018 Pony girls. Their 24-0 record is just one piece of evidence in their favor, but there are many others, such as their point differential, which exceeds 25 points and the fact that just one of their 24 wins was decided by fewer than six. Only one team, all season, was within one possession of Havre in the final minute of the game, talk about game control. Certainly, Havre High has had other great teams, including the 1997 state champions led by Havre High legend Loree Payne and former head coach, now activities director, Dennis Murphy, who directed Havre to three state championship games during his tenure, didn’t say which team he believed to be better. “It’s hard to compare,” Murphy said. “Those are just two completely different eras.” He’s right, it’s impossible to compare to 1997 team to the 2018 team. It would also be a shame to overlook the teams that won in 1976, 1978 and 2014. They were all historic victories and they all deserve their moment in the sun. However, it’s fair to say that this 2018 team is the most accomplished in Havre basketball history. No other team has went undefeated and no other has won 24 games. Records certainly aren’t everything, but this team passes the eye test, too, especially as Keller continues to get better and better. She’s not Loree Payne, but she might be the closest thing. All I know is that I’ve never seen a team quite like this and while no one can say definitively that this year’s Ponies are the best Havre High has ever seen, when it comes to playing defense, they are the GOAT (greatest of all time). And for now, that will have to do. Published 3-12-2018


A5

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Bizarre finish, but the Ponies look ahead to face an old rival tonight Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com GREAT FALLS — Throughout the 2017-18 season, things have come relatively easy for the Havre High girls basketball team. The Blue Ponies entered the Class A state tournament with a 21-0 record and only a handful of those wins were even close. During the season, CMR and Rocky Boy, two teams from Class AA and Class B respectively, came the closest to beating Havre, as each team lost by six at home. Yet, at some point, you just knew the Ponies would run into a tough game and in the first round of the state tournament, it finally happened, as the Hamilton Broncs gave Havre all it could handle Thursday in Great Falls at the Four Seasons Arena. In the end, Havre was able to hold on for the four-point victory, but it needed a little luck and some clutch performances to do it. The good luck came via Hamilton head coach Mark Albert, who made a mistake in the final seconds of the first-round game that will haunt him for a while. With the Ponies clinging to a 40-39 lead and less than five seconds on the clock, Albert called a timeout. His team had just advanced the ball into the frontcourt and he was ready to draw up a play, which if successful, could have given his team an upset win over the top-ranked Ponies. Yet, just like the Michigan Wolverines in the 1993 NCAA National Championship game against North Carolina, the game-winning attempt never came. After the Broncs didn’t line up correctly after their timeout, Albert called for timeout again and before he realized what he was doing, it was too late. He was given a technical foul, just like Chris Webber, for using a timeout he didn’t have. And just like Webber, Albert’s ill-advised timeout ended any hope his team had of pulling off a last-second victory. Instead of having the ball with a chance to win, Havre went to the free throw line and sophomore Kyndall Keller made two free throws. Danielle Wallace made another, putting the game out of reach and bringing an anti-climatic finish to a great opening-round game. “I think getting that first win helps,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “I think you can maybe relax a little bit. That 12:30 game is tough. We have been here before and seen the top seed play that game and get beat. So we were fortunate to not have that happen.” One of the most impressive aspects of the win for Havre, was the way its younger players were able to step up and perform under pressure. Keller, who is playing in her second state tournament, scored six points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws in the final seconds that helped ice the win. Fellow sophomore Kadia Miller was also huge. She made two free throws with 23.1 seconds left that put Havre up three. If she misses even one of those, Hamilton takes the lead on Tessa Della Silva’s 3-pointer with around 10 seconds left and from there, it’s anyone’s guess what happens next. But thanks to some clutch conversions at the free throw line, the Ponies avoided that scenario. In other words, they survived and advanced, which is what state tournament basketball is all about.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High sophomore Kadia Miller looks to pass during Thursday's Class A state tournament game against Hamilton in Great Falls. Miller had a big game for the Ponies, who advanced to face former Central A foe Browning in tonight's semifinal. For full coverage of tonight's game, see www.havredailynews.com, as well as Twitter and Facebook. “There was a very small margin for error,” Kraske said. “It was big-time possession basketball. We talked to the kids about playing that kind of basketball, and we were able to make some big shots and get some big rebounds down the stretch.” After surviving Hamilton in the quarterfinals of the Class A state tournament, Havre will try to reach the state championship game for the first time since 2014. Yet, standing in its way will be an old rival: the Browning Indians, who beat Belgrade 63-51 Thursday. For years, the Ponies and Indians were rivals in the Central A conference, until this past season, when the Indians made the move to the Northwest A.

The two teams still met twice during the regular season, with both games going to Havre, but tonight, the Indians and Ponies will play arguably their most important game since a Central A challenge game back in 1997. Led by Loree Payne, Havre won that game and earned a trip to the state tournament. Eventually, Havre, coached by Dennis Murphy, won the Class A state championship. HHS will be hoping for a similar result this time around. “Browning has a great program,” Kraske said. “I have a lot of respect for them and Ray (Augare) is a great coach. He has a lot of experience at the state tournament and they are one of the teams that you look at as

having a chance to do really well this week.” Havre beat Browning, on the road, without Keller 57-50 in January. Then, in February, near the end of the season, the Ponies beat the Indians at home, 72-53. The third meeting will be for a berth in the state championship game and it tips off tonight at 6:30 inside the Four Seasons Arena. Browning 63, Belgrade 51 Belgrade 16 11 15 9 — 51 Browning 17 21 9 16 — 63 Belgrade: Alexa Deming 4, Kiah Hohenstein 19, Ashley Sendon 2, Gabby Weber 16, Bailey Christensen 2, Meaghan McGinley 1, Hannah Gee 3, McKenna Carlson 2, Jaiden Blakely 2. Totals: 18 8-13.

Browning: Lacie Goss 2, Olivia Hall 14, Taylor Jordan 10, Ronnal Jordan 22, Dulci Skunkcap 6, Tamika Guardipee 9. Totals: 24 10-16. 3-pointers: Deming, Hohenstein 5, Weber, R. Jordan 4, Hall. Fouls: Belgrade 13, Browning 12. Fouled out: none. Hardin 60, Columbia Falls 34 Columbia Falls 11 10 6 7 – 34 Hardin 21 13 10 16 – 60

Realbird 6, Arena Plenty 6, Marie Five 8. Totals: 22 11-17. 3-pointers: Douglas, Hill, Fitzler, DuShane 2, Ereaux 2. Fouls: Columbia Falls 14, Hardin 17. Fouled out: none. Butte Central 43, Glendive 28 Glendive 9 7 7 5 – 28 Butte Central 10 6 16 11 – 43 Glendive: Bailey Pearcy 6, Kasidi Walker 2, Thea Robson 6, Karsen Murphy 8, Savannah Toms 6. Totals: 11 4-13.

Columbia Falls: Dani Douglas 5, LaKiah Hill 5, Josie Windauer 4, Peyton Rhodes 4, Hannah Schweikert 7, Ryley Kehr 4, Trista Cowan 5. Totals: 12 8-22.

Butte Central: Kloie Thatcher 15, Olivia Bolton 9, Cassidy Strizich 4, Megan Michelotti 12, Kailee Murphy 3. Totals: 16 7-11.

Hardin: Ivery Fitzler 3, Sharmayne Hardy 4, Karissa DuShane 13, Mashaya Alden 4, Aiyanna Ereaux 14, Cailei Cummins 2, Bergan

3-pointers: Pearch 2, Thatcher 3, Bolton. Fouls: Glendive 12, Central 8. Fouled out: none. Published 3-9-2018


A6

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Hi-Line Thrillers at State

Ponies hold off Broncs Havre survives a first-round scare from Hamilton in 2014 Class A title game rematch Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com GREAT FALLS — The Havre High girls basketball went into the Class A state tournament with a 21-0 record, but getting win number 22 over Hamilton, the Blue Ponies first-round opponent, was anything but easy or routine. In a rematch of the 2014 state championship game, Havre and Hamilton went head-to-head Thursday in Great Falls at the Four Seasons Arena and thanks to a strange ending, the Ponies won 43-39 to advance to the Class A semifinals tonight against Browning. After a defensive slugfest, the last 60 seconds between Havre and Hamilton produced some fireworks. First, Tessa Della Silva knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 39-39. Then with just eight seconds remaining, Danielle Wallace drew a foul and made a free throw to put the Ponies in front 40-39. On the other end of the floor, with 4.5 seconds left, Hamilton took a timeout, its final one of the game, to draw up a final play to try and win the game. However, the Broncs never got off the game-winning shot attempt, as head coach Mark Albert inexplicably called a timeout he didn’t have, resulting in a technical foul. Kyndall Keller made two free throws, followed by another free throw make by Wallace, which cemented a four-point win for the Ponies. “I have never been in a situation like that,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “I have seen it before, but no. I feel bad for Mark. He’s a good coach, he has a good program and great kids. They had a good game plan today and that’s a bummer.” Hamilton’s loss was Havre’s gain. But the Broncs didn’t lose the game. At the end, the Ponies found a way to win it. From the start, nothing came easy. Hamilton grabbed an early 3-0 lead, but a hoop by Kaylee Nystrom, followed by 3-pointers from Marca Herron and Kyndall Keller allowed Havre to build a 14-7 lead. Kyley Verploegen also added six points in the first quarter, as HHS led 18-13 after the first eight minutes. “We did a lot of preparation and that got me ready,” Verploegen said. “We came out and did a good job of playing as a team.” In the second quarter, however, the Ponies went into an offensive slump, both teams did. In the entire stanza, there was just two baskets made and both were from Hamilton, as the Broncs outscored Havre 5-0 to tie the game at half, 18-18. “We got a little impatient there in the second quarter,” Kraske said. “We had a lot of one pass and shoot possessions. We still were able to get some good looks, we just couldn’t make them.” At the outset of the third quarter, Hamilton continued its run as Mallory McGill knocked down a triple, then scored again to put the Broncs ahead 23-19. Facing its biggest deficit of the game, Havre turned to sophomore Kadia Miller, who buried a 3-pointer to get HHS within one. Then, she

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Above: Havre's Marca Herron splits the Hamilton defense during Thursday's Class A state tournament game in the Four Seasons Arena. The Blue Ponies survived a tough game with the Broncs. For more on Havre, see Page A7. Right: Havre's Danielle Wallace fights for a rebound during Thursday's Class A state tourney game in Great Falls. Havre advanced to tonight's semifinal. For more photos from the game, go to www.havredailynews.com. scored inside to make it 24-23 Ponies. “I just knew that our team was down a little bit,” Miller said. “And that we needed something to get us back into it.” After Miller put Havre up by one, Hamilton answered with a three to go back up two, before a make from deep by freshman Kylie Walker and a hoop from Wallace gave the Ponies a 2926 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Herron opened the scoring in the fourth, getting a bucket and a foul to put Havre up five. But, two buckets from the Broncs got Hamilton back within one, before back-to-back buckets by Keller made it 35-30 Havre with 4:14 to play. With the score 35-34 and 51 seconds to go, Verploegen hit two clutch free throws to keep the advantage at three points, but that’s when Della Silva hit from deep to the tie the game with around 10 seconds remaining. “That was a nice shot,” Kraske said. “We were playing off her a little bit and lost track of her, which was unfortunate, but you still have to make the shot and you have to give her credit for that.” Despite Della Silva’s dagger, Havre wasted no time getting the ball down the floor. Eventually, Wallace got the ball inside

and was fouled. She made the first three throw to give Havre a lead it would not relinquish. “That wasn’t really coaching,” Kraske said. “Our kids just kept their composure and knew what to do in that situation. Our kids stuck together, we executed down the stretch; got some stops and made some free throws. That was the difference.” For the game, Havre shot just 35 percent from the field, compared to 51 percent for Hamilton. The big difference came at the free throw line, where Havre was 13-of-20. The Broncs were just 4-of-8. The Ponies also had a slight edge in 3-pointers, with four makes compared to three. Both schools finished with nine turnovers. Individually, Keller led all scorers in the game with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting. She also had two rebounds and two assists. Verploegen was big off the bench for Havre with eight points and four rebounds. Miller also contributed with seven points and three boards. She scored all seven of her points in the second half. Lauren Ryter led Hamilton with 12 points, Cariann Kunkel finished with nine. “Like she has all year long, Kadia did a great job for us defensively,” Kraske said. “But she made that big 3-pointer and then Walker made one. That was the

turning point for us in that third quarter.” The win put Havre into the Class A state semifinals for the fourth time in five years. Yet, the Ponies haven’t advanced past that round since 2014, the last time they won the state championship. To do that, HHS will need to get past Browning tonight inside the Four Seasons Arena. Tip-off time is set for 6:30. “We gotta prep up and coach em’ up,” Kraske said. “We have to get the kids ready to play.”

Havre 43, Hamilton 39 Hamilton 13 5 8 13 - 39 Havre

18 0 11 14 - 43

Hamilton - Tessa Della Silve 7, Tristan Searle 1, Kara Nye 5, Mallory McGill 5, Cariann Kunkel 9, Lauren Ryter 12. Totals: 16-31 4-8 39. Havre - Kyndall Keller 14, Kylie Walker 3, Kaylee Nystrom 2, Kadia Miller 7, Marca Herron 5, Danielle Wallace 4, Kyley Verploegen 8. Totals: 13-37 13-20 43. 3-Pointers: K. Walker, K. Keller, M. Herron, K. Miller, T. Della Silva 2, M. McGill, K. Nye. Fouls: Hamilton 14, Havre 8. Fouled out -- none. Published 3-9-2018


A7

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Perennial powerhouses headline Class A field

Everything you need to know for the Class A state tournament in Great Falls George Ferguson

most are looking at to play the Ponies in the state championship game, though a 2017 state title game rematch with Columbia Falls in the first round Thursday won’t be an easy start. Still, the Bulldogs are as talented as anyone in the tournament, led by the dynamic duo of Marie Five and Karissa Dushane. Hardin’s size, with two six-footers in the lineup is also a big advantage, and the Bulldogs are also a veteran team, with a ton of state tournament experience. So, it’s easy to see why the Bulldogs certainly believe they should be playing on Saturday night at state for the second year in a row. Hardin last won a state championship in 1994.

Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com It’s going to be an exciting three days at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, as eight teams duke it out for the Class A girls state championship. It will especially be exciting for the Havre Blue Ponies, who not only are riding a 21-0 mark into the state tournament, but also will have a home crowd advantage this weekend in the Four Seasons Arena — the site of Havre’s last state championship back in 2014. But as good as Havre is, and as heavily favored as the Ponies are, there are plenty of contenders, too. Six of the eight teams in the field were at state a year ago, including the top three in Columbia Falls, Hardin and Butte Central. The last four state champions are also back in the field, meaning the tournament is loaded with state title experience from the veteran coaches, down to many of the players. Yes, the Class A state tourney, which is the last girls-only state tournament, as the boys and girls will combine starting next season, should be a great one, and throughout the next three days, the Four Seasons should be rocking. The tourney starts with firstround games at 12:30, 2, 6:30 and 8 p.m. today. Loser-out games Friday are set for 12:30 and 2 p.m., with the semifinals slated for 6:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday’s action starts with loser-out games at 9:30 and 11 a.m. The consolation game will tip at 6:30 p.m. and the state championship game will start at 8.

Columbia Falls Wildkats (20-4) Western A 3rd Place Outlook: Like Hamilton, Columbia Falls pretty much breezed through the regular season, but came out of the Western A in just third place, which put them in a tough draw with Hardin. Still, the Wildkats are the reigning state champions and have a ton of state tournament prowess behind them. Columbia Falls isn’t as big or deep as last year’s state title team, but head coach Cary Finberg’s squad still has firepower. Ryley Kehr and Trista Cowan are top scorers for the Wildkats, while they also play as many as 11 players per game. Columbia Falls is also one of the top defensive and rebounding teams in Class A. Though the Wildkats will be an underdog of sorts this weekend, no one will be surprised if they leave Great Falls with another trophy either. Butte Central Maroons (15-5) Western A Champion

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of the 2018 Class A state tournament, which runs Thursday-Saturday in Great Falls. Havre Blue Ponies (21-0) Eastern A Champion Outlook: The Blue Ponies are a heavy favorite this week in Great Falls, which, as fate would have it, is the site of their last state championship back in 2014. Havre is also a perennial state tournament team under longtime head coach Dustin Kraske. A season ago, the Ponies played in the semifinals before eventually falling to upstart Corvallis in a loser-out game. But with Class A’s leading scorer Kyndall Keller, and a senior-laden squad composed of Danielle Wallace, Marca Herron, Kaylee Nystrom and injured Ryen Olson, the Ponies have no intentions of playing Saturday morning. In another ironic twist, Havre plays Hamilton in the opener — the first meeting between the two schools since the Ponies beat the Broncs in the Four Seasons Arena for the 2014 state championship. A win there would push Havre to Friday night’s first semifinal against one of two big rivals, Browning or Belgrade. This season, the Ponies were a combined 4-0 against the Indians and Panthers, so, while it won’t be easy, the road to Saturday night’s finale is certainly in Havre’s favor, and so is the history the Ponies have of winning in Great Falls. Hamilton Broncs (19-4) Western A 4th Place Outlook: The Broncs seemed to cruise through the regular season, but in the postseason, they have lost three times, and will come in as underdogs against the Blue Ponies Thursday afternoon.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High's Kyndall Keller is certainly one of the top players in all of Class A basketball this season. And Keller and the Blue Ponies are certainly the favorite at the Class A state tourney this weekend in Great Falls. But as is always the case, there are plenty of good teams in the field inside the Four Seasons Arena. Still, Hamilton is a dangerous team, and will put Havre’s incredible defense to the test. Cariann Kunkel and Jordan Taggert are good offensive weapons for head coach Mark Abert, while 6-0 Lauren Ryter is a big presence in the paint, and Mallory McGill is an excellent outside shooter. The Broncs also have good size, and while the postseason hasn’t gone exactly as planned, the Broncs are back in the state tourney for yet another year. Hamilton also won the 2015 state championship, just one year after falling to the Ponies in the title game. Browning Indians (16-5) Western A 2nd Place

Outlook: If there’s a team on the rise right now in the Class A field, it’s Browning. The Indians beat Western A stalwart and defending state champion Columbia Falls twice in the last three weeks, and they come to Great Falls ready for more. Browning is an offensive juggernaut, a team with athleticism and size, and, the Indians also hold the distinction of giving Havre its toughest test all season. Players to watch include center Tamika Gardipee (6-1), forward Taylor Jordan (5-11) and forward Dulci Skunkcap (5-11). But that trio isn’t alone. Browning has a ton of depth and athletic talent, and the Indians also boast six players on their roster that stand 5-10 or better, so they certainly create matchup problems. Browning’s

talent also makes them a real dark horse this week in Great Falls. The Indians open the tourney with former Central A rival Belgrade. Browning’s last state title came back in 1996, and the Indians haven’t played in a championship game since. Belgrade Panthers (10-12) Eastern A 3rd Place Outlook: The Panthers weren’t supposed to be in the field this week, but they pulled off a pair of huge wins at the Eastern A two weeks ago, so they’re making a return trip to state after tying for fifth a year ago. Head coach Sarah Fowler’s team had a tough go at times during the regular season,

but the Panthers seem to be peaking at just the right time. A first-round game with Browning is tough, but led by star guard Gabby Weber and standout shooter Kiah Hohenstein, the Panthers will be looking to pull off more upsets this week in Great Falls. Belgrade has never won the Class A title. Hardin Bulldogs (16-5) Eastern A 2nd Place Outlook: The Bulldogs played for the state championship a year ago, and if it wasn’t for Havre’s dominance this season, Hardin might have been the favorite when they reached Great Falls. Still, on the opposite side of the bracket from Havre, Hardin is the team

Outlook: Head coach Meg Murphy’s team kind of flew under the radar during the regular season. But, the Maroons won’t be overlooked this week in Great Falls. Butte Central won a couple of thrillers to capture the Western A championship two weeks ago, and the Maroons are returning to state after finishing third a year ago. Butte Central boasts one of the top players in the state in senior Kloie Thatcher, but the Maroons also have firepower at every position on the floor. Megan Michelotti is a standout on both ends of the floor, while Tricia Joyce is a doubledigit scorer as well. Butte Central, while not deep, is an offensive powerhouse, while playing hard-nosed scrappy defense, and like Havre and Columbia Falls, the Maroons are also used to the bright lights of the state tournament. And, if they get past Glendive in the opener, they have a chance to really do special things this weekend. The Maroons won the 2016 state title, and played in the 2015 state championship game as well, so they’ve brought home a trophy from state in each of the last three seasons. Glendive Red Devils (9-15) Eastern A 4th Place Outlook: Like Belgrade, the Red Devils went on quite the upset run at the Metra two weeks ago in Billings. The Red Devils had to play six times and win four games at the Eastern A to reach their first state tournament since 2009. Now in the state field, Glendive will be a huge underdog, especially in its opener against Butte Central. But the Red Devils were underdogs at the Eastern A, too, so they’ll embrace that role. Glendive is also a young team, led by Savanna Toms (6-0), Kendra Kaufman (5-10) and Karsen Murphy (6-0), so the Red Devils could be building something special for the future, no matter how they do this week in Great Falls. Glendive hasn’t won a state championship since 1983, but the Red Devils have been a runner-up six times since. Published 3-8-2018


A8

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

THIS TEAM

THIS MOMENT

The Havre High girls basketball team shoots for a Class A state title and a rare perfect season in Great Falls

Story by Chris Peterson Page Design by Stacy Mantle

The Havre High girls basketball team is no stranger to the Class A state tournament, but the 2018 version will be different than any of the trips, because this time, the Blue Ponies are the heavy favorite. And after an 18-0 regular season and three more wins to capture the Eastern A Divisional championship, it’s easy to see why. Another edge for Havre (21-0) is the fact that the state tournament will be just down the road in Great Falls, at the Four Seasons Arena, the same location where HHS won its last state championship in 2014. The Ponies will open the tournament against Hamilton, in a rematch of the 2014 championship game. Their quarterfinal matchup will tip-off Thursday at 12:30 p.m. “It’s great for us,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “It will give the community a chance to come see us play. It’s only two hours away and the roads are good, the weather should be a little nicer. We are really excited about playing this close to home.” As much as the Ponies might want to avoid it, it's hard not to compare this season with 2014, with one key difference, this Havre squad comes in perfect and is the first Pony basketball team, boys or girls, to enter both divisionals and state undefeated. The 21-game win streak to start the season is also the longest in school history and three more wins would set this team apart from any other in the history of Havre basketball.

“It’s hard for me to think about that,” Kraske said about going undefeated. “I guess talk to me about it Saturday night if it hap-

We want to make a name for ourselves. We just want to leave our mark on Havre High Marca Herron Havre High Senior Guard

pens. I just know that it’s an incredibly hard thing to do and who wouldn’t want to be a part

of that?” Throughout the season, the Ponies have proven themselves to be a cut above the competition, winning their 21 games by an average of 24 points. HHS finished the regular season with the second-best offense in Class A (60.1 ppg) and the second-ranked defense behind Hamilton, with an average of 36.1 points allowed per game. While the Broncs boast the top-ranked defense in Class A, they average around 49 point per game and rank fourth in Class A in 3-point field goals. “They are a really nice team,” Kraske said. “They have the (Cariann) Kunkel kid, she’s a really nice player that works hard around the basket. I am totally impressed with her. They shoot a ton of 3-pointers, at least they have in the games that we have watched, so their guard play is good, too. They are a solid team, we are looking forward to playing them.” While the Broncs are a threat from beyond the arc, no team in Class A girls basketball connected more triples than the Ponies, who averaged 4.7 makes from beyond the arc per game. Havre not only made more 3-point shots than anybody, it also had the best 3-point percentage in Class A at 33 percent. A big part of that has been the stellar perimeter shooting of Marca Herron and Kyndall Keller. Herron is hitting 44 percent on her shots from deep and Keller is knocking down 41 percent. In addition to being a prolific 3-pointer

■ Continued on Page B2


B1

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Hi-Line Athlete Profile

She can only watch now, but Ryen Olson is a huge part of Havre High's success Chris Peterson Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews. com After making the Class A state tournament in all but one season under head coach Dustin Kraske, the Havre High girls basketball team is used to playing on the big stage. Yet, this time around, the Blue Ponies, who boast five seniors, including guard Ryen Olson are hoping to do something Havre hasn’t since 2014 in girls basketball and that’s win the state championship. The last time Havre won the Class A state title, the state tourney was held at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, the same place it will be this week. The action gets underway Thursday for Havre. HHS will battle Hamilton from the Western A, in a rematch of the 2014 state championship game. Tip-off time for that opening round game will be Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Beyond the location of the state tournament, there are a lot of other similarities between the 2014 Ponies and this year’s version and one of the most striking is senior leadership. The 2014 team was led by senior like Peyton Filius, Brandy Lambourne, Lacey Waid and Hailey Ohm. Those veterans were essential to that run and this time around, the veterans have been a huge part of Havre’s success. Olson, a guard, who came off the bench for the top-ranked Ponies, is one of five seniors who play big minutes for HHS, along with Marca Herron, Danielle Wallace, Kaylee Nystrom and Kyley Verploegen. Unfortunately, when it comes to the state tournament, Olson will be sidelined. She suffered a knee injury earlier in the season and despite playing at divisionals, she will be unable to play this week in Great Falls. Olson, who plans on studying accounting at Montana State University next fall, has been a three-year varsity player for the Ponies and would be making her third appearance at state this weekend. During the past two seasons, her role was limited off the bench, but she has always been known for her 3-point shot and this season, she turned into one of the most effective perimeter shooters on the team. After averaging just a couple points a game a season ago, Olson boosted her average to five points per game. She also shot 32 percent from beyond the arc and had 15 3-point field goals, which both ranked third on the team. Yet, Olson did more than just shoot threes. Her defense steadily improved and even though she missed four games this season, she still ranked fourth on the team in steals with 20. However, this week, she will be relegated to the role of coach/cheerleader. “I tried playing at divisionals,” Olson said. “But it just kept buckling out. There's nothing to keep my knee in place.” Olson will still accompany

It's State Week Four area teams are heading to state basketball tournaments this week, and no one will cover them like the Havre Daily News. We'll be live all week at the Class A state tournament following the Havre Blue Ponies, and we'll have exclusive coverage of Box Elder at the Class C girls tourney in Butte, and Rocky Boy at the Class B state tourney in Missoula. Watch for previews and features stories Wednesday and Thursday, followed by game coverage from all three tournaments Thursday through Saturday, and of course, make sure to get your copy of the Havre Daily News Monday for stories and photos from all the action. her team at 21-0 on the season, to Great Falls as the Ponies head there this week as the Eastern A champions and heavy favorite to capture the school’s third Class A state championship since 1997. But, before Olson and her teammates head to the Electric City to try and make history, the Havre Daily News caught up with her for five questions. HDN: How excited are you guys to have the state tournament in Great Falls, close to home? Olson: “I think it will be great. I know so many people that are going. They are having a pep bus at school. It will be great to have all of our close friends and family there.” HDN: What has it been like going on this run this season? Olson: “Everyone told us that we were going to be good. I just don’t think we realized it. We are just in it together and just try to move on to the next game. So I don’t think we ever thought we would be undefeated, but it’s really cool to be part of it.” HDN: How did it feel for you guys to finally break through and win the Eastern A title? Olson: “That was awesome, especially because it was against Hardin again, because we finally got them.” HDN: What would it mean for you and your team if you are able to finish this off with a state championship? Olson: “It would mean the world to me and I think it would mean a lot to the whole team because we have worked really hard and we are just really close. This is the closest team that I have ever been on.” HDN: Will it be difficult for you to have to watch your team at state this week? Olson: “Yes for sure, but I am just grateful that I am part of a team that is this good. I’m ready to be there biggest supporter.”

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Ryen Olson takes a shot during a girls basketball game against Fairfield last month in Havre. Olson has been a key cog in the Blue Ponies' run to the Class A state tournament later this week in Great Falls, and she's been a varsity player for head coach Dustin Kraske for the last three years. Olson, however, will be sidelined this weekend with a knee injury, but she says she'll be right there with her team every step of the way, as Havre tries to capture its second state championship in the last four years. The Blue Ponies open the state tourney Thursday afternoon against Hamilton. For full coverage of HHS, see Wednesday's Havre Daily News, and follow the Ponies all throughout the state tournament, in print, at www.havredailynew.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

Published 3-6-2018


B2

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

This Team: Havre High girls look to make more history inside the Four Seasons Arena, the site of its last title ■ From Page A8

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Kaylee Nystrom runs away from the Sidney defense during the Blue Ponies' season-opening game back in December at the HHS gymnasium. Havre beat Sidney that night and has won every single game since. Now, the Blue Ponies take their 21-0 record to the Four Seasons Arena for the Class A state tournament, which runs Thursday through Saturday. The Blue Ponies' last state title came in 2014, also in Great Falls. For more on the state tourney, see Thursday's Havre Daily News. For full Blue Pony coverage, follow the HDN all weekend long.

shooter, Keller might just be the best offensive player in Class A. She ranked second in the state with 18.1 points per game this season and was also second in free throw attempts. The sophomore is a huge part of what the Ponies do offensively, but she is part of a multi-pronged attack that also features Danielle Wallace (10 ppg) Herron (8.8 ppg), Kaylee Nystrom (6.7 ppg), Kadia Miller (4.6 ppg) and Kyley Verploegen (4.4 ppg). On the defensive end, Nystrom is a spark plug who ranks fourth in the state in steals and is fifth in assists coming in. She leads a defense that has allowed more than 40 points just four times this season and more than 50 points twice, both to Browning, a team Havre could meet in the semifinals. Browning is among a slew of teams such as Columbia Falls, Hardin and Butte Central, that along with Havre and Hamilton, Kraske said, he believes are capable of winning the state title. “I think there are probably six teams that have a chance,” Kraske said. “I don’t know if there is a team that stands out, maybe it’s us, but I know that when our kids stick together and play well together, we are tough to beat.” Beyond playing well, for most

of the season, the Ponies have dominated. Only five teams have managed to stay within single digits and six point wins against CMR and Rocky Boy remain the closest Havre has come to being defeated. No Class A team has played Havre closer than seven points. HHS is also 6-0 against other teams at the state tournament with wins over Browning (2), Belgrade (2), Hardin and Glendive, by an average of 15 points. “I think all the year our focus has always been on us getting better,” Kraske said. “And I hope that never changes. We focus a little bit on Hamilton or the other teams we play, but our focus should continue to be, how do we get better?” The Ponies might come into the state tournament as the favorites, but they have also known disappointment the past few seasons, coming up one win shy of Saturday night at the state tournament the past three years, including losses in the semifinals to Hamilton and Columbia Falls in 2015 and 2017. The last Havre team to play Saturday night at the state tournament was the 2014 team and Kraske said to get to that point, the biggest key is staying together. “It’s really important that you stick together,” Kraske said. “Winning games at the state

tournament isn’t easy. It’s about matchups and getting hot. You really have to grind it out and I think that team did a really great job of sticking together. That’s what we need to do this week.” If the Ponies can do that, they will have the chance to deliver Havre High its fifth state championship in girls basketball and third since 1997. It would also be

the second in the last five years and the second straight at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. “We played pretty well there before,” Kraske said. “It will be fun to have the chance to do it again.” Through 21 games, the 2018 Havre girls have done things no other basketball team in Havre High has done before. In fact,

the Ponies have done everything they have set out to do such as winning the Central A regular season title and the Eastern A Divisional championship. But all along, there has been another goal, one that will take three more victories to achieve. “We just want to come in, make a name for ourselves,” Herron said. “We just want to take it game by game. We know it would

be really cool for the town of Havre. It’s not often that a girls athletic team succeeds above the rest and we just want to leave our mark on Havre High.” Havre will play Hamilton Thursday in the opening game of the Class A state tournament. Tip-off time is set for 12:30 p.m. The Class A state championship game is scheduled for Saturday night at 8. Published 3-7-2018


B3

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

MARCA’S BACK

Story By Chris Peterson

Photos by Colin Thompson

After a battling a severe illness last year, Havre High's Marca Herron is enjoying her final hoops season in every way possible

Over the years, Marca Herron and her sisters have shared a lot of time and memories on the basketball court. But if Marca, a senior at Havre High, has anything to say about it, the next time, will be the best yet. That’s because it won’t just be a reunion, in fact it might very well be a celebration, of not just an incredible senior season for Marca, but a Class A state championship for her team, the Havre Blue Ponies, who will enter next week’s state tournament in Great Falls, at the Four Seasons arena, as the heavy favorite. “It will be really special to have them there,” Marca Herron said about all her sisters. “We only get a together, all of us a few times a year, so to have them there for the state tournament mean a lot and if we could win it, it would be incredible.” If they are successful, the Ponies will place the cherry on top of what has already been a remarkable campaign, one that has already made its way into the history books by notching the longest winning streak in Havre basketball history with 21. The Ponies can also be the first basketball team at Havre High, boys or girls to finish undefeated and sit just two wins shy of setting a school record for total wins too. Yet when it comes to the Herron sisters, Marca, Molly, Kacie and Josi, there is some history to be made too, because despite everything they have achieved in their varying and stellar careers, none have a state title to their credit, at least not yet anyway, which is saying something considering all four girls have played college basketball, or will once Marca joins the University of Providence next season. “It would be really awesome actually,” Marca Herron said. “One of my sisters (Josi) took second one year and we always try to compare our basketball careers, who has the most points, who scored the most in a game, so would be cool to one up them in something.” Molly Herron, who played in Big Sandy in high school before playing at the Providence, where she is now a senior, agreed, saying, “We picked on her quite a bit growing up, so she would have that to get back at us for all of that.” While Marca and Molly are the last two sisters to play basketball, they certainly aren’t the first. Kacy Herron, the eldest Herron sister, had a standout career at Big Sandy, where he helped the Pioneers reach the state tournament. She also played at Rocky Mountain College. Josi Herron is the other and came the closest to winning a state championship, coming in second during her time with Big Sandy. “Growing up, I spent more time in the gym than I did anywhere else,” Molly Herron said. “It’s just a way that we have bonded and the way that we grew up together. But she has really grown as a leader. I can see how she is a leader on the floor and her being the younger sister, that has been really fun to watch.” The growth process for Marca hasn’t always been easy, there have been bumps in the road along the way. She started her career as a freshman with the Ponies and earned her way into the rotation right away in that first season. Even then, she played a prominent role on the team and in the state semifinals against Hamilton, she attempted a tying 3-pointer with just over a minute to play. “I was young and immature then,” Herron said. “Honestly, at the time, I didn’t even know

that shot was to tie the game. My mom told me that after the game. Hopefully, this time around, we will be ahead in the fourth quarter and we won’t need any shots like that. But I think if we have to perform in those pressure situations, we trust ourselves to make it happen.” However, trust, takes time to build. But in terms of state tournament experience, you would be hard pressed to find any player at the Class A state tournament that has more of it than Herron, who will be making her fourth appearance, including trips to the semis in both 2015 and 2017. Yet, on each occasion, the Ponies came up short, something Herron, a senior, is hoping to change. “It definitely is a different feel,” Herron said. “I am a lot more focused and ready to go coming into this one because it will be my last one. I really want to leave a lasting impression on this program. Hopefully, we can just take it game-by-game and play good team basketball.” With everything seemingly going the right way for Herron and the Ponies, it’s hard to imagine that just one year ago, she was dealing with something so serious, she doubted, if only for a short time, whether she would ever play again. Throughout her junior season, Herron felt something was wrong. At first, she attributed it to just a routine sickness, such as a cold or bronchitis. In games, she was fatigued. She didn’t have the stamina to play for long periods of time and got winded easily. She also had pain in her back and legs that made it difficult for her to walk, let alone run. “All junior year I thought I had a cold or flu or a sinus infection,” Herron said. “But a couple weeks after state last year, it got completely bad. I went into the ER twice and the second time was when they found out I had blood clots in my both of lungs.” When she first heard the news, Herron said she started crying, believing she might not be able to play while taking blood thinners. But soon, her doctor told her that wasn’t the case. However, that doesn’t mean her road to recovery has been an easy one. “There is kind of a misconception that people on blood thinners can’t play sports or do more physical activities,” Herron said. “But the doctor saw me crying

and asked why. I thought my career was done, that it was going to be it. But he said people on blood thinners can do anything a normal person can do. So I have taken blood thinners ever since. I get checkups and go the doctor if something feels weird, but I started playing again in June and I haven’t really had any issues.” In fact, Herron has played better than ever. If there was one thing the blood clots did, it made her realize how much she loved the game. At some point, during the struggle that was her junior season, she lost that and getting it back was a major turning point in what has been a break-

out season as the Ponies starting point guard. “With everything I was going through and not being able to play as much, I think I lost the love for the game,” Herron said. “But realizing I might not be able to play, made me understand how important it was to me. And this year, I have gotten that feeling back.” Battling blood clots wasn’t Marca’s fight alone, though, it was something that affected her family as well. “It’s hard to see your sister like that,” Molly Herron said. “When she didn’t know what was wrong with her, it was frustrating and that whole junior season

was frustrating for her. Then it was tough at home to see your little sister struggling to even walk up the stairs because she couldn’t breathe. She put on a tough face, but I know it was a big challenge for her.” Now, Marca is back to herself and Molly Herron, along the with rest of her family, couldn’t be happier. “She has always had that spark in her,” Molly Herron said. “And it’s nice to see that come back this year.” As a player, Marca Herron is also reaching new heights. Not only has Herron done an outstanding job directing Havre’s offense, but she has boosted her scoring average to nearly nine points a game, while also averaging 3.2 assists per game, which ranks eighth in Class A girls basketball. The senior is a good distributor of the basketball, but she also does much more, ranking second in 3-point percentage among players with at least 30 attempts in all of Class A. Herron has knocked down 44.7 of her shots from downtown, second to only Karissa Dunshane of Hardin, who has attempted 38 3-pointers, compared to 76. Herron is also second in the state in 3-point field goals during the season, with 36, only Mollie Thatcher of Butte Central, with 38, had more. “It’s been nice to see Marca have the kind of season we were all hoping for,” Havre head coach Dustin Kraske said. “She puts in a lot of time in the offseason and she is able to see the reward of that work. She is a positive leader for us and she has done a nice job of moving past the negative pretty quick. She runs the show for us and gets our kids where they need to be. She shoots when she is open, she doesn’t force stuff and she does such a nice job of trying to get another defender to guard her to get a teammate another shot. So I am very happy for her, she is having a really great senior season.” Herron may not shoot the ball a ton and she certainly doesn’t score the ball as much as she could on a less-talented team, but stats just aren’t important to her, with the exception of one: wins. And at this time of year, having a guard like that than can control the game, knock down open shots and limit turnovers, is essential to getting those and to continue advancing.

“It means everything to your program,” Kraske said. “We have a group of kids that seem to play well under pressure and she kind of leads the way. Like the other night (in the Eastern A championship game), when it was time to foul, she knew who to get the ball to and that’s all part of winning. She has been in those situations and knows how to handle it.” Scoring points is great and Herron has done plenty of that, both this season and throughout her career. But now, her entire Blue Pony career is about one thing: winning a state championship, whether she scores five points a game or 20. “I want to score as many points as it takes for us to win,” Herron said. “I don’t care if that’s zero or 30. I just want to win. That’s how I feel and I know that’s how my teammates feel and I think that’s why we have done so well this season. We are a tight-knit group, we get along really well and we all just want to do whatever it takes to win.” As the state tournament gets closer, it feels like this might just be the year for the Ponies to do something they haven’t done since 2014, when they won the state championship, ironically in Great Falls, at the Four Seasons Arena. “We have talked about that,” Herron said of she and her teammates. “How state is in Great Falls, just like it was the last time. It kind of feels a little bit like destiny, like it’s meant to be. But that doesn’t change the fact that we have to go out there one game at a time. I remember watching that team and being at that state championship game. That atmosphere and the excitement that was in the air, I have wanted to be part of that ever since.” Next week in Great Falls, Marca Herron will get that chance. And with everything basketball means to her and her family, it’s fitting, that all three sisters, will be there to watch and take part in, what could be the defining moment of Marca’s basketball career. “If it ends up happening, it will be one of the greatest moments of my life,” Herron said. “But if it doesn’t, after everything that’s happened, just getting to finish out this season, with this team and with my family will be great, no matter what happens.” Published 3-2-2018


B4

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

EASTERN A CHAMPS

Blue Pony girls steamroll their way to a title in Billings Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Divisional championships are nothing new to Dustin Kraske and the Havre High girls basketball team. In fact, the Blue Ponies have won quite a few over the years. Yet they had never won the Eastern A Divisional championship, until this past weekend, that is. Inside the Rimrock Auto Arena at the Metra in Billings, the Ponies got revenge for a 2017 title game loss to Hardin by defeated the Bulldogs 42-34 Saturday to win their first super divisional title, and capturing their first title since the Central A crown back in 2015. The 21-0 Ponies will head to the Class A state tournament in Great Falls as the top seed from the East. Havre will meet Hamilton, the fourth seed from the Western A at 12:30 p.m. March 8 in the Four Seasons Arena. “It’s a big deal, it’s great and it speaks to our kid's level of hard work and all of our coaches' hard work,” Kraske said. “That’s the reward for doing all of that. We are so happy for our players, it’s been a long season, they have ground it out. It’s been tight down the stretch and they executed and they earned it. It’s a big deal because there are a lot of teams over there that are good and I couldn’t be more happy for our guys.” There are a lot of reasons why Havre has yet to lose this season, but the biggest reason for its dominance might just be its defense. And in the championship game against Hardin, the Pony defense was on another level. The Bulldogs, who scored just under 60 points a game during the regular season, were held to 14 points in the first half. Hardin had just 20 points after three quarters, before scoring 14 in the final stanza. Havre didn’t dominate the game offensively, but the Ponies did enough. Kyndal Keller scored 12 of her team’s first 15 points and helped HHS build a 15-5 advantage in the second quarter. At the half, Havre led Hardin 21-14. The Bulldogs kept the game close in the second

Courtesy Photo The Havre High girls basketball team is all smiles after winning the 2018 Eastern A divisional championship Saturday night in Billings. Havre defeated Hardin in the championship game, and will now move on to the Class A state tournament March 8-10 in Great Falls. half, but Danielle Wallace, who finished with 14 points, helped keep Hardin at bay. The defense did its part too, keeping the Bulldogs under 40 points. Keller finished with 15 points, a game high. Kaylee Nystrom also added six, including a key 3-pointer in the second half. Marie Five, who scored 13 points for Hardin, was the only Bulldog to reach double figures. “Danielle Wallace and Kyley Verploegen, they were big in the second half,” Kraske said. “That Marie Five of Hardin is a good player and they did a nice job of holding her in check. All our kids played really well on the defensive end.” To get to the championship

game against Hardin, the Ponies first had to take care of business Friday night in the semifinals against Laurel and, early on, nothing came easy for the Ponies. The game was tied at 11-11 after the first quarter and with just a minute left in the first half, the score was 16-16. But, in the closing moments of the first half, Kadia Miller hit a 3-pointer, which gave the Ponies a 19-16 halftime lead. In the second half, the tide turned in favor of the Ponies. Nystrom scored after an offensive rebound to put the Ponies up eight, then a 3-point play by Miller pushed the lead to 11. Havre eventually built a 20-point lead before winning 56-41. Keller

had 15 points, despite sitting out some of the first half due to foul trouble. Miller and Nystrom both finished with 10 points, while Wallace and Kyley Verploegen each had seven. Kaitlyn Dawes led Laurel with nine. “Kadia played so well defensively, her and Kaylee Nystrom,” Kraske said. “Not to single them out, but they did such a good job of taking away the other team’s best. We are just playing so well defensively right now. Even when it was down to six points, if felt like we were in control, like we could make the plays we needed. I am just happy for our kids. They have worked extremely hard and they deserve it.”

The Ponies (21-0) will be off this week, before heading to Great Falls next week for the Class A state tournament, which will be held March 8-10 inside the Four Seasons Arena. The last time the Class A state tournament was in Great Falls, back in 2014, Havre beat Hamilton in the state championship game. “I am glad that it’s in Great Falls,” Kraske said. “It will be nice for our community to have the chance to travel two hours to watch this team play, because I think this team is worth it.” Havre 56, Laurel 41, SF Havre 11 8 17 20 — 56 Laurel 11 5 9 16 — 41

Havre: Kyndall Keller 15, Kylie Walker 4, Kaylee Nystrom 10, Kadia Miller 10, Marca Herron 3, Danielle Wallace 7, Kyley Verploegen 7. Laurel: Maeson Cotter 6, Apsen Cotter 6, Sammi Spitzer 3, Gracey Willis 1, Paige O'Toole 4, Kaitlyn Dawes 9, Abby Lorash 6, Madison Cooney 4, Riley Chapman 2 Havre 42, Hardin 34, 1st Havre 8 13 8 13 — 42 Hardin 4 10 6 14 — 34 Havre: Kyndall Keller 15, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Marca Herron 2, Danielle Wallace 14, Kyley Verploegen 5. Hardin: Ivery Fritzler 5, Karissa DuShane 9, Aiyanna Ereaux 7, Marie Five 13. Published 2-26-2018


B5

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Hi-Line Athlete Profile

HHS' Wallace has made herself at home Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Ever since joining the Havre High basketball team as a sophomore, Danielle Wallace has been a core part of the team’s success, which includes two appearances at the Class A state tournament. However, this season, much more is expected of the Blue Ponies, who are 19-0 as they head to the Eastern A Divisional semifnals, where the Ponies play for a berth in yet another state tournament tonight at 8. One thing that makes the Eastern A so exciting is the fact that the tournament is played inside the Rimrock Auto Arena at the Metra in Billings. For years, the Eastern A was one of the most exciting divisional tournaments in the state of Montana. In part because of the venue and also because the high level of competition that seems to take place at the tournament every year. Two years ago, the Eastern A and the Central A conferences combined and formed a super divisional tournament that now has 10 teams and four state tournament berths on the line. Wallace was part of the first Havre team to play in the Eastern A and started on a team that ended up in third place. Last season, she was part of a Havre team that made it to the Eastern A championship game before falling to Hardin. Since moving to Havre two seasons ago, Wallace has seen her role constantly increase. She started her sophomore season on the bench, only to eventually turn into a starter and one of the most effective interior scorers on the team.

Rebounding the basketball and providing an inside presence are two things Wallace has done extremely well and in her senior season, she is doing them better than ever. Wallace has been able to do things during the 2017-18 season, that she never has before, such as averaging double-digit points. Currently, she is the Ponies’ second-leading scorer at 10 points per game. But what’s more impressive than that is her field-goal percentage, which stands at 51 percent. She also makes 63 percent of her free throws. While Wallace has increased her production as a scorer and rebounder, she has also improved as a defender. She not only leads the team in blocks, but her team defense is also much improved and has played a role in the Ponies allowing a Class A best 36.1 points. Wallace and the Ponies, who entered divisionals as the topranked team in the state are looking to play their way back into the state tournament this weekend, but before heading to Billings, the Havre Daily News caught up with Wallace for five questions. HDN: How is the divisional tournament different than the regular season? Wallace: “The court is a big difference. There are also a bunch of new teams that we don’t normally play, so it’s harder to scout them. We just have to go out and play as hard as we can.” HDN: So do you like playing at the Metra? Wallace: “I love it. I just like how open it is and how many

people come to see us play.” HDN: What would it mean if you could add a divisional championship to an already impressive regular-season record? Wallace: “It would be amazing if we could. But that’s not our main focus right now.” HDN: “How was your transition to Havre? Wallace: “It’s been good. It took a little while to get to know everyone, but I am glad I got to move here and play with these girls.” HDN: What have you enjoyed the most about playing for the Ponies? Wallace: “I don’t know, just getting to play for (the Ponies) has been awesome.”

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High's Danielle Wallace, left, shoots over a Belgrade defender during a Central A game back in December in Havre. Wallace moved to Havre as a sophomore and has blossomed into the Ponies' most dominant post player of the last two seasons. Wallace and the Ponies are two wins away from the Eastern/ Central A divisional title in Billings. Published 2-23-2018

It was an impressive weekend for the Rocky Boy boys basketball team, and star senior guard Kordell Small was impressive in his own right. Thursday night, the Stars rolled into Havre and knocked off the Class A Blue Ponies, with Small scoring 12 points in the win. But Friday night, Small poured in a game-high 23 points as Rocky Boy blitzed Cut Bank 80-64 to remain unbeaten in District 1B play. Small is a three-year starter and an All-Conference performer for the Stars. He also played football in the fall.

Danielle Wallace has had a big season for the Havre Blue Ponies. She’s been an anchor in the paint for the undefeated Ponies on both ends of the floor all year, and she certainly was again last weekend in Billings. In Havre’s three-game sweep en route to the Eastern A championship, Wallace averaged 11 points and nine rebounds per game, and she poured in 14 points in the Ponies’ win over Hardin in Saturday night’s championship game. Wallace, who is sure to be an All-Conference performer this season, will try to close out her career with a state championship next week in Great Falls.

Rocky Boy standout Kendall Windy Boy has been a dominant presence for the Stars all season long. And now, Windy Boy will get to take that dominance to the Class B state tournament next week in Missoula. On Monday night, Windy Boy scored 11 points and finished with a double-double in Rocky Boy's 79-76 win over Fairfield in a Northern B challenge game in Great Falls. It concluded a strong Northern B tournament for Windy Boy, who averaged 16 points and nine rebounds over the course of four games. Windy Boy scored 19 points in Rocky Boy's semifinal win over Choteau.

The Havre High girls are undefeated on the season. But staying perfect wasn’t easy as the Blue Ponies got all they could handle in Browning Friday night. However, HHS has great senior leadership, and one of those is Marca Herron, who scored a team-high 15 points in the narrow win over the Indians. Herron, who has played all four years for the Ponies, also has overcome health adversity, and is having a big impact on the Ponies in her final year. She scored 12 points in HHS’ win over Rocky Boy Thursday. Herron will play hoops for the Providence Argos next fall.

Published 1-16-2018

Published 2-27-2018


B6

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Havre girls cruise into Eastern A semifinals Ponies crush Cowgirls, while Miles City sqeaks past HHS boys on day one in Billings George Ferguson and Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News sports gferguson@havredailynews.com One down, two to go for the Havre High girls basketball team. Coming into Billings as a heavy favorite to claim the Eastern A girls divisional championship, the Blue Ponies wasted little time in getting the tourney started on the right foot, as they pounded Miles City 65-45 Wednesday night at Rimrock Auto Arena. The win not only pushed the Blue Ponies to 19-0 on the season, but, also into the semifinals, where they'll take on

either Laurel or Lewistown Friday night. "I'm glad we have a day off," Havre coach Dustin Kraske said to the Billings Gazette. "I'm not a big fan of that because we're missing a day of school unnecessarily in some aspects. However, for us to have a long day, play hard, we can just practice and watch our boys play tomorrow and that will be kind of nice, too." Havre deserves a day off, especially after punishing the Cowgirls from start to finish. The Ponies scored 21 points in the first quarter, leading 21-12. Then, as Havre has done all

season, the Ponies turned up the defensive pressure, holding Miles City, which beat Sidney Wednesday morning, to just eight points in the second. Havre held a 37-20 lead at intermission and never looked back. Offensively, Havre shot a scorching 58 percent, with Kyndall Keller scoring 11, while the trio of Kadia Miller, Danielle Wallace and Kyley Verploegen each added 10 points. Defensively, the Ponies' pressure forced Miles City into 21 turnovers. Havre will await the winner of this morning's first-round game between Laurel and Lewistown in the semifinals, which will be played Friday at 8 p.m. The Eastern A championship game is set for Saturday at 8 p.m.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Marca Herron and the Havre High girls won their opening game at the Eastern A Divisional late Wednesday night in Billings. The Ponies will play in the semifinals Friday night. The HHS boys lost a heartbreaker to Miles City Wednesday morning and play Sidney in a loser-out game tonight.

Havre 65, Miles City 45 Miles City 12 8 16 9 — 45 Havre 21 16 17 11 — 65 Miles City: Bailee Murnion 2, McKenzie Taylor 3, McKenna Friend 1, Kyra Oakland 9, Dezi Chamberlin 2, Morgan Johnstone 2, Madison Rask 13, Mackenzie Rask 13. Havre: Ryen Olson 5, Kyndall Keller 11, Kaylee

Nystrom 8, Kadia Miller 10, Marca Herron 9, Katie Wirtzberger 2, Danielle Wallace 10, Kyley Verploegen 10.

Cowboys edge Pony boys The struggles of the Havre High boys basketball team in 2017-18, mirror that of last season, all the way down to the opponent at the Eastern A Divisional. The Blue Ponies played Miles City in the opening game at divisionals last season and dropped a close game in overtime after losing a late lead. And Wednesday, at the Rimrock Auto Arena at the Metra, Havre had a bout of deja vu, as the Cowboys overcame a four-point deficit in the final two minutes to oust Havre from the winner’s bracket with a 45-43 win. With just a few minutes left in the game, the Ponies were in a position to move onto the quarterfinals. Two buckets from Jacob Irvin and another from Trey Murphy had the Ponies in front 43-39, with just over two

■ See Semifinals Page C4 Published 2-22-2018

Ponies Stampede into Billings

Undefeated Havre High girls aiming for the Eastern A crown Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Kaylee Nystrom and the undefeated Havre High girls are the favorite at this week's Eastern A Divisional in Billings. But with plenty of good teams in the field, the Ponies have their work cut out for them. Havre opens the tourney with a game tonight against either Miles City or Sidney.

All season long, the Havre High girls basketball team has played like a team on a mission. And after going 18-0 in the regular season, the Blue Ponies are ready to take the next step. That next step is the Eastern A Divisional Tournament in Billings. It’s a tournament that will decide if Havre makes another trip to the Class A State Tournament and whether or not HHS can bring home its first divisional championship since 2015. Havre will play tonight, inside the Rimrock Auto Arena at 8 p.m. against Sidney or Miles City. While the Ponies know when they will play, they won’t know who they will play until this afternoon, following the conclusion of the first-round game between Sidney and Miles City. The winner will likely be Miles City (8-7, 4-5), as Sidney comes in winless on the season, including an 0-10 mark within the Eastern A conference. Havre beat Sidney in the season-opening game 71-15. If Havre does end up facing Miles City, it will have a couple of key players to deal with such as Mack Rask, who is the leading scorer with 7.3 points per game, along with Kyra Oakland, who is just behind her with 7.2. Ashley Vennable and Madison Rask also average more than six points a game for a team that won six games in a row at one point. “They are really athletic and I like them a lot on film,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said of a potential matchup with Miles City. “They are tough and hard-nose. They play really hard. If we play them, we will have our hands full. It will be really fun.” If the Ponies (18-0, 6-0) get past Miles City (8-7, 4-5) or Sidney (0-18, 0-10) in the quarterfinals, they will face either Lewistown or Laurel in the semifinals. Havre has beaten Laurel at divisionals the last two years and also swept Lewis-

town during the regular season. The Locomotives (10-8, 8-2) are a solid team that has two talented scorers in Aspen Cotter (13.9 ppg) and Sammi Spitzer (10.1 ppg). Lewistown (9-9, 2-4) is a similar team and depends a lot on Anna Zimmer (11.1 ppg) and Hanna Hays (9.8 ppg). If Havre advances past that game, which would be Friday night at 8, the Ponies will play in the championship game, Saturday at 8 p.m. Yet, if the Ponies lose in the quarterfinals or semifinals, hope won’t be lost. Havre will just need to win two games, including the consolation semifinals, which are played simultaneously at 10:30 a.m. “Our goal coming in is just to get invited to the next tournament, the state tournament,” Kraske said. “That’s the only goal that we have right now. We just want to win two games and get to the state tournament. Then, maybe, we can think about setting a new goal.” After an undefeated regular season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Ponies reach that goal. They will be led by the second-leading scorer in Class A girls basketball, Kyndall Keller, who is averaging 18.1 points per game. However, as a team, the Ponies are averaging just over 60 per game. That is thanks in large part to seniors Danielle Wallace (10.0 ppg) Marca Herron (8.8 ppg) and Kaylee Nystrom (6.7 ppg). Havre has also gotten consistent contributions from Ryen Olson, Kadia Miller, Kyley Verploegen and Katie Wirtzberger. One thing that makes Havre particularly dangerous on the offensive end is its ability to shoot the 3-pointer. Herron is currently second in Class A, with a 44.7 3-point percentage. Keller also ranks fourth. She is shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc. “We don’t really try to focus too much on everyone else,” Kraske said. “We want to work on getting ourselves to be better. That’s our main focus. We have had a good season, we just need to go out and play hard,

play well defensively and keep playing like we have all season. If we do that, we will be fine.” Another team that shoots the ball extremely well in the tournament is Hardin (14-3, 7-3). The Bulldogs scored 58.2 per game during the season and are paced by Karissa DunShane, who shoots 47 percent from deep and averages 17.3 points per game. Sharmayne Hardy is the Bulldogs’ other top scoring threat. She averages 10.7. Hardin will play Belgrade Thursday at 12 p.m. The Panthers (8-10, 4-2) finished second to Havre in the Central A. They are led by Gabby Weber (13.1 ppg) and Klah Hohenstein (11.5 ppg). The other quarterfinal game will feature Billings Central (12-6, 8-2), the top-seeded team from the East, against the winner of Glendive and Livingston, the other opening round game. Glendive (4-12, 1-7) scored just 39.1 points per game during the season and has just one scorer in double figures, Savannah Toms (10.4 ppg). Livingston (5-13, 0-6) owns wins over Laurel and Miles City, so they are no pushover. The Rangers boast Kodia Vondra (11.4 ppg) and Danielle Babcox, who averages 6.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Livingston and Glendive will play at noon today, before returning to play Billings Central inside the Metra at 6:30 p.m. Olivia Moten-Schell is another elite scorer and she comes in averaging 14.6 points a night for the Rams. Billings Central doesn’t have another scorer who averages in double figures, but they have four others that score five or more, in addition to the third-best scoring defense in the tournament. The winner of that quarterfinal will meet Hardin or Belgrade in the semifinals. The championship game will be played at 8 p.m. Saturday. The consolation game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. The top four teams from the Eastern A advance to the state tournament March 8-10 in Great Falls, the site of the Ponies' last Class A state championship. Published 2-21-2018


B7

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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Ponies crush Browning on senior night Havre girls improve to 15-0 after wins over Browning, Rocky Boy George Ferguson

Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com The emotions of senior night can sometimes go either way. Sometimes, it can trip a team up, and sometimes, it can fuel them. For the Havre High girls basketball team, it was both. Seniors Kaylee Nystrom, Danielle Wallace, Marca Herron, Kyley Verploegen and Ryen Olson (currently injured) were in the HHS gymnasium for the last game of their careers Friday night, against the toughest opponent they’ve seen all year — the Browning Indians. And while Havre got off to a bit of a slow start, they finished anything but slow in a rousing 72-53 win. “These five guys have meant a lot to our season, and to this program,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “They’ve set the tone for us to be successful. They play so hard, and every one

of them brings something great to our team individually. But I think what’s so special about them is, as a group, they seem to only care about our team being successful. We’re just very lucky to have them.” And the four seniors who played Friday night made sure their last game in the Pony Corral was a memorable one. Browning scored the first four points of the game, and early on, Havre struggled on both ends of the floor. But when Kyndall Keller scored on backto-back trips down the floor, the Ponies moved in front for the first time, and, while Browning hung tough, Havre would never trail again. “It’s one of those things, the emotions of senior night,” Kraske said. “Our younger players did an awesome job of honoring these seniors before the game, and it’s very emotional. But then, five minutes later, you have to go out and play the best team on our schedule. So I think we got off to a bit of a rusty start. We gave up a bunch of rebounds, and we were out of sync offensively for a while there.” And still, Havre led 12-8 after the first quarter, and the Ponies continued an 8-0 spurt into the second stanza. Keller caught fire in the second, but a steal and a hoop from Nystrom late

in period, helped Havre take a 30-25 lead into intermission. The third quarter saw the Ponies score five quick points to lead 35-25, but with big plays coming from Taylor Jordan, the Indians, at one point, were within two points at 39-37, following an 8-2 run. The close game wouldn’t last though. Herron buried a three to end the third quarter, giving Havre a 45-39 advantage. Then came the deluge. Herron hit another triple to open the fourth period, and Verpolegen scored on a layup right after, sparking what would become a 17-2 run in a quarter that saw the Ponies outscore the Indians 27-14. Havre had six steals in the period, and got big buckets from Nystrom and Wallace during the barrage that left the Indians completely gassed. “I thought we got our tempo

■ See Browning Page C5 Havre Daily News/Ryan Welch Havre senior Kaylee Nystrom looks for room during Friday night's senior night game against Browning in the HHS gymnasium. Nystrom and the Pony senior had a great farewell with a blowout win over their Class A rival.

Historic Pony Seniors Say Goodbye

Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team has been on a roll of late and the only thing that might stop them from racking up more wins this weekend is the weather. The Blue Ponies, who are 14-0 on the season, are scheduled to host Browning, tonight for senior night inside the HHS gymnasium, before making the trip to Rocky Boy to take on the Morning Stars Saturday. Tip-off between the Ponies and Indians, if the game is played, is set for tonight at 7. Havre will play Rocky Boy Saturday at 5 p.m. In terms of the Havre seniors Marca Herron, Kaylee Nystrom Danielle Wallace, Ryen Olson and Kyley Verploegen, it’s a class that is filled with accomplishments within the Havre High basketball program. The Ponies have five seniors in all and each of them have spent multiple years on the varsity roster. “I think that they are great leaders, wonderful kids and role models,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “They all bring a uniqueness to our program, and I think that combined with the other guys that are playing, we are pretty lucky to watch them.” Herron got her first action as a freshman and after four years of playing with Havre, she is set to join the University of Providence next season. Yet, equally impressive has been the rise of Nystrom over the past two seasons. The cross country standout who will join the Skylights cross country team next fall, is a tenacious defender and easily one of the best on-ball defenders in Class A girls basketball. Nystrom averages 7.1 points per game, along with 4.4 rebounds, but she also averages 3.6 steals and 3.2 assists per game, both team highs. While Nystrom ranks fourth in the state in steals per game and fifth in assists per game, she is joined in the top 10 in assists by

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson The Havre High seniors Kyley Verploegen, back row, from left, Marca Herron, Ryen Olson and Danielle Wallace, and Kaylee Nystrom, front are slated to play their last game at home if they host the Browning Indians tonight at 7. Herron, who is right behind her at 3.1. Herron, who averages 8.1 ppg, also leads Class A girls basketball in 3-point percentage, as she made 46 percent of her 50 attempts from beyond the arc this season. “Marca has had a good a senior year as she could possibly have,” Kraske said. “She’s playing very well and under control. She doesn’t force any shots and is such a rhythmic shooter. And Nystrom, what a spark-plug kid for our yonnger kids to take the

lead from.” Wallace is another player who has made a big impact on the program in the past few seasons, starting the past three years. She is currently second on the team in scoring behind sophomore Kyndall Keller and averages 9.9 points, as well as team-leading 6.1 rebounds. She is also shooting an impressive 52-percent on 2-point attempts. “Danielle Wallace is having a good a senior year as we would like her to have,” Kraske said.

“She is getting more and more confident every week and all these seniors have just left their mark on our program very positively.” Herron, Wallace and Nystrom are all starters, but even though Olson and Verploegen come off the bench, their impact isn’t any less significant. Kraske has often praised the depth and experience of this team and that’s due in large part to an impressive senior class. Olson has given the Ponies another reliable

3-point shooter, who has done a great job of hitting big shots off the bench. For the season, she’s averaging 4.9 points and has 15 made 3-pointers. “Ryen has had a wonderful senior year coming off the bench,” Kraske said. “She bought into a role and comes off the bench and does her job. So pleased with how she has played. So happy for her and happy for Kyley Verploegen, she has kind of done the same thing. She’s a really hard-working kid and

comes off the bench and does what she does well.” Verploegen is another player who would probably start for the majority of teams in Class A. Like Wallace, she makes 52 percent of her shots inside the arc and is second on the team with five rebounds per game, despite coming off the bench. Another one of her assets, is her defensive prowess. Possibly her biggest contribution beyond that is her 29 offensive rebounds, ranking second only the to Wallace, who has 49. If Havre does get to honor its seniors against Browning, the group will have a chance to close out their careers in style against the fourth-ranked team in the state according to 406 sports, which also ranks the Ponies second, despite being the only undefeated team in Class A at 14-0. Browning is currently 13-3. The two teams met earlier in the season in Browning and even without Keller, who is the second highest scorer in the state with 17.8 ppg, Havre found a way to beat the Indians on the road. Yet, the rematch should prove to be equally challenging, especially since the Indians have four scorers in double figures. Dulci Skunkcap leads the way at 11.1, but Ronnel Jordan (10.9 ppg), Tameka Gardipee (10.8 ppg) and Taylor Jordan (10.4 ppg) are also offensive threats. Saturday, if the roads allow, Havre will head to Rocky Boy, with a chance to clinch a season sweep over the Morning Stars. The Ponies rolled in the first meeting, 81-38, but Rocky Boy is currently 10-4 and the No. 10 team in Class B, so an upset is always a possibility. In order to beat HHS, Rocky Boy will need clutch performances from Sean Henry, Sasha Coffee and Adrienne Gopher. The Stars and Ponies will play at 5 p.m. Saturday if the roads are open. If Havre plays tonight against Browning, the game will start at 7 inside the HHS gymnasium. Published 2-9-2018


B8

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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HHS girls clobber Fairfield Chris Peterson Havre Daily News

cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball got one of its more difficult tests when it played Fairfield during the first week of January. Yet Friday night inside the HHS gymnasium, the Blue Ponies made quick work of the Eagles. Fairfield, the defending Class B state champions, were hoping to put up another fight against the Ponies, but this time around, Havre would have none of it. The Ponies outscored the Eagles by 16 points in the first quarter and led by 40 or more multiple times in a 56-19 win. HHS is now 14-0 on the season. “Our kids came out and they were ready to go,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Every, single kid seemed ready. And Fairfield is a solid program. They are down a little bit, but they are a good team, they are well-coached, but we were just ready to go right from the start on both ends of the floor.” The Ponies were ready to go, especially on the defensive end. Utilizing a full-court press that has wreaked havoc on opponents all season long, Havre put a ton of pressure on the Eagles early in the game, and it was clear they couldn’t handle it. HHS roared out of the gates and following two steals and two easy layups by Marca Herron, the Ponies were up 14-2 midway through the first quarter. Kyndall Keller then got things going for the Ponies, as she scored six consecutive points to put Havre up by 15 points. In the final minute of the opening stanza, Ryen Olson provided the exclamation point on a stellar quarter, knocking down

a 3-pointer, to give Havre a 24-8 advantage after eight minutes. In the second quarter, the Ponies showed no signs of letting up. A bucket by Danielle Wallace put Havre in front by 20. A few minutes later, Wallace dished to Kyley Verploegen, who scored to make it 34-10. Before the half was over, freshman Kylie Walker drilled a trey and that helped HHS take a 39-12 lead into intermission. The Ponies closed the second quarter on a 5-0 run, but picked up right where they left off in the third quarter, scoring the first 13 points to build a 52-12 advantage. That run included a couple more buckets from Wallace and a 3-pointer from Herron, which helped put the mercy rule into effect. The score was 52-15 heading into the fourth quarter, when Walker, knocked down her second triple of the game, putting Havre in front 55-15. With the clock running, the fourth quarter went quickly and the Ponies went on to win by 37 points over its Class B rival. Keller was the top scorer in the game and led Havre with 16 points. Herron had a solid outing with 10 and was joined in double figures by Wallace, who also finished with 10 points. Walker finished with six and Kaylee Nystrom had five. “I thought it was a really great team effort,” Kraske said. “I thought that all of our kids worked really hard defensively and I was pleased with that. Of course, as a coach, you are going to be a little nitpicky and I would like to see our communication be a little bit better, but the kids came out and they were just on it right away. That was really good to see.”

After beating Fairfield, the Ponies were supposed to wrap up their Central A conference schedule Saturday in Lewistown. Yet due to bad weather and poor road conditions, the trip was canceled. The game will be rescheduled and played at a later date. Havre will have a challenging week ahead of itself, as the Ponies will host Browning inside the HHS gymnasium Friday, before traveling to Rocky Boy to take on the Morning Stars Saturday. Havre and Browning will tip-off at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Ponies and Rocky Boy will play at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Havre 56, Fairfield 19 Fairfield 8 4 3 4 - 19 Havre

24 15 13 4 - 56

Fairfield: Wipf 2, Clotfelter 5, Pitcher 8, Rosenbaum 1, Simmons 1, Harris 2. Havre: Ryen Olson 3, Kyndall Keller 16, Kylie Walker 6, Kaylee Nystrom 5, Kadia Miller 3, Marca Herron 10, Danielle Wallace 10, Loy Waid 1, Kyley Verploegen 2.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High's Kyley Verploegen goes up for a shot during Friday night's battle between the Blue Ponies and Fairfield Eagles in the HHS gymnasium. The Blue Ponies won easily, while their game Saturday at Lewistown was postponed due to the weather. For more photos, go to www.havredailynews.com. Published 2-5-2018

Streaking Ponies ready for round two with the Eagles Havre High girls host Fairfield tonight, visit Lewistown Saturday night Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com With the five games to go in the regular season, the Havre High basketball team has already done all it can in the Central A conference, clinching the top spot two weeks ago with a win over Belgrade. However, the Blue Ponies are far from satisfied and while an undefeated season is still a possibility, head coach Dustin Kraske and his team aren’t focused on that. Instead, the Ponies are prepped for Fairfield and Lewistown, their opponents this weekend. The top-ranked Ponies will host Fairfield, the defending Class B state champions tonight at 7:30, followed by a road game against Lewistown that is set to start at 5 p.m. “We don’t talk about that with our kids,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said of being undefeated. “We are just going to go play. We know their personnel pretty well because we

played them both before and we are hoping to play a little better this weekend than the last one and that’s kind of our thing. Our practices this week have gone really well and we are really looking forward to watching our kids play.” Throughout its 13-0 start, Havre has dominated the competition, winning games by an average of 26 points and averaging 60 a game offensively. Only Great Falls High was able to get within single digits of Havre, and they still lost by eight. Fairfield, which played the Ponies Jan. 6, was one of just three teams to lose by 15 or less. While the Eagles aren’t the power that they have been in previous years, they are still solid and come in with a 7-7 record. Alexis McWilliams, Naomi Wiot, Emily Clotfeller, Kenna Pitcher and Kaitlyn James will all see heavy minutes against the Ponies. James and Pitcher both scored in double figures in the first meeting in Fairfield. “They will be really good defensively, they always are,” Kraske said. “What impressed me the most about them the last time, was that they handled our press pretty well, so I am curious to see if we get more out of it. I would think we would, especially being in our gym, but those kids play fundamental basketball, we will have to be ready to go, no doubt.” Havre should come into to-

night’s game fresh, considering it will be only its second game in 13 days. The last time the Ponies were on the floor, they defeated Malta 47-23. It was the first game back in the lineup for All-State sophomore Kyndall Keller, who missed a good part of three games due to an ankle injury. Keller has been the driving force behind the Havre offense all season and is still among the scoring leaders in Class A girls basketball with an average of 18 points per game. Behind Keller is Danielle Wallace, who averages 9.8 points and a teamhigh 6.6 rebounds. Marca Herron is also averaging 7.9 points and shooting 43 percent from 3-point range. In addition to that, Kaylee Nystrom is averaging 7.3 points, to go along with nearly four steals and assists per game. On Saturday, Havre will take on a Lewistown team that still has a chance to finish second in the Central A standings, which is an important distinction from the third and fourth-place teams at the divisional tournament. The Eagles (7-5, 1-2) were embarrassed by Havre in the first meeting, as the Ponies rolled to a 75-24 victory. The Eagles average just 41.9 points a game offensively, which could spell trouble against a Pony defense that leads Class A by allowing opponents to score just 34.5 ppg. The Eagles will try to make

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Danielle Wallace and the Havre High girls basketball team play a pair of Eagles this weekend, starting tonight with a home game against Fairfield. some headway offensively with

game. Zimmer leads the team

tonight at 7:30 inside the HHS

the likes of Anna Zimmer and

with 11.3 and Hayes is right be-

gymnasium. The Ponies will

Hanna Hayes, who combine to

hind her scoring 9.9.

play in Lewistown Saturday with

average more than 20 points a

Havre and Fairfield will play

tip-off time set for 5:30 p.m. Published 2-2-2018


C1

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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Pony girls have no trouble with M-Ettes Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team didn’t play its best game of the season against the Malta M-Ettes Saturday inside the HHS gymnasium. Yet, the Blue Ponies were great when they had to be and that was all that mattered. Despite coming in with one of the worst overall records in Class B, Malta hung with the Ponies for the good part of four quarters. The M-Ettes were even tied with the top-ranked Ponies at the half, but a 23-4 run by Havre shut the door on Malta’s upset hopes and gave HHS the 47-23 win. Havre is now 13-0 on the season. “It was coaching,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said of his team’s slow start. “I didn’t do a very good job of getting them ready and they weren’t ready.” When the two teams met in Malta earlier in the season, the game was similar. Havre started slow but grabbed a double-digit

lead by half, before winning by more than 30. But this time, Malta seemed determined to hang around. And following a stellar defensive effort, the MEttes led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Kyndall Keller connected on a shot from the baseline and Kaylee Nystrom hit Havre’s first 3-pointer of the game to put the Ponies in front 15-13, but when the stanza came to a close, the two teams were tied 17-17. Down 20-18 in the third quarter, Danielle Wallace grabbed an offense rebound and scored to tie things up. Soon after, Nystrom got a steal and score, putting Havre ahead 22-20. The Ponies wouldn’t be tied or trail again. That’s because those buckets sparked a 10-0 run that featured two more hoops inside from Nystrom and a make from Keller that put Havre up 28-20 with one quarter to go. In the fourth quarter, the Ponies separated themselves further, as Ryen Olson hit a long

2-point shot, followed by two 3-pointers from Marca Herron in the span of minutes. Suddenly, the Ponies were up 37-22 and by the time Keller scored, while drawing a foul with around three minutes left, the score was 42-23. The final score was 47-23 as the Ponies ended the game on a 29-3 run. “Our kids made some nice adjustments at halftime,” Kraske said. “We played a lot better team basketball. The ball seemed to move a lot better from teammate to teammate. That was good. We started doing the things that we are supposed to be doing. We started playing like we know how to play.” Keller, who has missed the last couple games due to injury, returned to score a game-high 16 points. Nystrom finished with 11 and Herron had six. Wallace and Kadia Miller each had four. Erica Smith led the M-Ettes with 10 points. The Ponies will look to keep their record perfect with two challenging games ahead this weekend. The Ponies will host

Fairfield Friday night, before traveling to Lewistown for the final game of Central A conference play. Havre 47, Malta 23 Malta 8 9 3 3 - 23 Havre 7 10 11 19 - 47 Malta: Gilkeson 2, Denham 2, Schipman 5, Smith 10, Schye 2, Garfield 2. Havre: Ryen Olson 3, Kyndall Keller 16, Kassidy Compton 1, Kaylee Nystrom 11, Kadia Miller 4, Marca Herron 6, Katie Wirtzberger 1, Danielle Wallace 4, Kyley Verploegen 1.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High's Kyndall Keller splits the Malta defense during Saturday's game in the HHS gymnasium. Havre overcame a slow start to beat Malta for the second time this season. For more photos from the weekend, go to www.havredailynews.com.

Published 1-29-2018

HHS girls host M-Ettes Saturday Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team has been busy lately, but this week, the Blue Ponies will get a rest of sorts, with only one game on the schedule. That game will come Saturday when the Ponies host Malta. Havre will be looking to complete the season sweep at beating the M-Ettes earlier in the season. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. In the first meeting between the two teams, Havre started out slow, but turned it on in the second half to blow out Malta by the score of 59-38. However, since that game, the two teams have gone in dramatically different directions. The Ponies still haven’t lost and will enter this weekend 12-0, while the M-Ettes haven’t won and will bring a 1-11 record into their game Friday night against Wolf Point, which precedes the game with HHS. “Right now we are just trying to stay focused on getting better,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Our young kids especially seem to be really growing up, especially on the defensive end. So that’s been really encouraging to

see.” In the first meeting between Havre and Malta, Kyndall Keller was a driving force behind the win as she scored 14 points along with Marca Herron. Yet, the Ponies have been playing without Keller for the past few games and, thanks in large part to their depth and senior leadership, they really haven’t skipped a beat. Havre is 3-0 without Keller, with wins over Browning, Livingston and Belgrade, but the plan is for the All-State sophomore to play against Malta, albeit in limited minutes. “She will play,” Kraske said. “But she will be limited.” Getting Keller back is good news for the Ponies, but not for their opponents. Havre was 3-0 without Keller and won three games on the road, which is an impressive feat, no matter the competition. HHS also won two of the three games by double digits, with the exception of Browning, ranked fourth at the time, which fell to Havre 57-50. Yet as good as the top-ranked Ponies were minus Keller, with her and with the team at full strength, HHS has been beating teams by an average of 30. “We have really had that next-manup mentality,” Kraske said. “Our kids have really stepped up and worked

together to fill that void. It hasn’t just been one or two players, it has been the entire team.” The biggest key for Havre this season, with or without Keller has been their outstanding play on the defensive end of the floor. The Ponies have allowed just three teams to score more than 40 points in 12 games this season and only Browning reached 50. Keller is still leading the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game, but others such as Herron, Danielle Wallace and Kaylee Nystrom helped pick up the slack when she was out of the lineup. Wallace is the second leading scorer for the Ponies, with an average of 10.2 points. She also leads the team in rebounds with 6.2 per game. Herron has also been a reliable producer on offense for Havre. She is averaging 7.8 points a game and is shooting 44 percent from 3-point range, second only to Keller, who is shooting 52 percent from deep. Nystrom has also bumped up her scoring average to 7.1 ppg. She is also tied for third on the team in rebounds with 4.4, while also leading the team in steals and assists with four per game in each category. Havre and Malta will go head-tohead Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High's senior Kaylee Nystrom looks for a shot during a recent Central A Conference game in Havre. Nystrom and the undefeated Blue Ponies play Class B Malta Saturday night inside the HHS gymnasium.


C2

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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HHS girls fend off Rangers, Panthers Chris Peterson Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews. com If the Havre High girls basketball team was going to keep its stranglehold of the Central A intact, it was going to have to win on the road without its leading scorer. And while it wasn’t always easy, that’s exactly what the Blue Ponies did this past weekend. Without Kyndall Keller, the Havre girls didn’t skip a beat. The Blue Ponies downed Livingston 47-36 Friday night and then beat Belgrade on the road, 59-46 Saturday. Havre is now 12-0 on the season and 5-0 in the Central A. Havre is virtually guaranteed of being the top seed in the Central A at the divisional tournament as well. Lewistown could still tie Havre at 5-1 if the Eagles win out. However, since Havre won the game by 54, it’s not likely Lewistown could beat Havre by enough points in a head-to-head matchup to win the tiebreaker and grab the top seed. “We were really pleased with how the kids played,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And we won the league, so we were very happy.” Havre defeated Livingston by 39 points when the two teams met in Havre, but this time around, it would be much closer. Havre led 11-8 at the end of the first quarter and was up just 2521 at halftime. Yet in the second half, Havre finally started to pull away. The Ponies pushed their lead to nine points by the end of the third quarter and then held Livingston to just five points in the fourth quarter to win by 11. Senior Kaylee Nystrom scored a game-high 14 points to lead the way for Havre. Fellow senior

Ryen Olson also reached double figures with 11. Danielle Wallace added six. Larissa Saarel led the Rangers with six. “Kaylee had a really strong game,” Kraske said. “She had about 10 rebounds and was just all over the place. Marca had a really nice game, too.” After beating Livingston, Havre went for a season sweep of Belgrade Saturday. Belgrade built a 9-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. At halftime, the Ponies were down 22-21, but early in the third quarter, Kadia Miller scored a bucket to tie it up at 25-25. Freshman Kylie Walker hit a 3-pointer to give Havre a 2927 lead and Havre wouldn’t trail again. “Kylie didn’t score a ton of points,” Kraske said. “But she made some really nice plays and hit a pretty big shot for us against Belgrade. Then we really just got after it defensively there in the second half.” Havre led 36-33 at the start of the third quarter, but two hoops inside from Wallace but HHS in front by eight. Maya Reed hit a 3-pointer to get Belgrade within five points, but the Ponies salted away with the win at the free throw line and went to take the game by 13. Miller led the way for the Ponies with 15 points. Wallace pitched in with 12 and Marca Herron had 11. Olson also had another solid game with 10. Gabby Weber led Belgrade with eight. Reed had seven along with Kiah Hohenstein. “I thought Wallace had a really nice game,” Kraske said. “I just thought our kids played really, really well down the stretch. Kadia Miller had a tough game Friday and she came back and played really well, especially defensively. It was just a really good effort all around.” Havre will travel to CMR Fri-

day, before returning home Saturday to take on Malta. Havre 47, Livingston 36 Havre

11 14 15 7 - 47

Livingston 8 13 11 5 - 36 Havre: Ryen Olson 11, Kylie Walker 2, Kaylee Nystrom 14, Kadia Miller 4, Merca Herron 4, Katie Wirtzberger 4, Danielle Wallace 6, Kyley Verploegen 2. Livingston: Katerine Kant 3, Larissa Saarel 6, Sylvie Schoenan 5, Kadie Vondra 4, Abby Kokot 5, Danielle Babcox 4. Havre 59, Belgrade 46 Havre

12 15 23 - 59

Belgrade 14 11 13 - 46 HAVRE (12-0) - Ryen Olson 2 5-10 10, Kylie Walker 1 0-0 3, Kassidy Compton 1 0-0 2, Kaylee Nystrom 2 2-2 6, Kadia Miller 2 11-16 15, Marca Herron 2 5-12 11, Danielle Wallace 5 2-7 12, Kyley Verploegen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 25-47 59. BELGRADE (5-6) - Alexa Deming 1 1-2 3, Kiah Hohenstein 1 4-5 7, Maya Reed 3 0-0 7, Ashley Sendon 1 0-0 2, Gabby Weber 3 2-3 8, Bailey Christensen 2 2-2 6, Meghan McGinley 1 0-0 2, Hanna Gee 3 4-6 11, McKenna Carlson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 13-18 46.

Dan Chesnet/Belgrade News Havre's Marca Herron shoots during Saturday's game against Belgrade in Belgrade. The Ponies swept the Panthers and Livingston Rangers. Published 1-22-2018

Pony girls aim to march on in the Central A Unbeaten Havre High visits Livingston, Belgrade Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Kyndall Keller has been dynamite for the Havre High girls basketball team in her sophomore season with the Blue Ponies. But for now at least, the Ponies are going to have to find a way to keep winning games without her. That’s because Keller, who suffered an ankle injury in last Friday’s win over Browning, will miss this weekend’s games against Livingston and Belgrade, meaning the 10-0 Ponies will try to keep their undefeated streak alive without their leading scorer. HHS will hit the road to take on Livingston tonight at 7:30, before heading to Belgrade to take on the Panthers Saturday at 3:30 p.m. “She’s going to be out,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said of Keller. “We just want to her heal.” Certainly, Havre will miss Keller and her 20 points per game scoring average, but the Ponies are undefeated for a reason and it’s not because they are a one-woman show. “It’s not going to change anything we do,” Kraske said. “We are going to count on everybody. We aren’t going to do anything specific, it’s all about how we are going to be guarded. Everyone is just going to have to keep playing. I don’t think we need to do anything different, I think everyone on our team has been playing pretty well, so we just need to take the shots that we get, play well defensively and do what we do.” Kraske said he wasn’t sure who would take Keller’s spot in the starting lineup, but did say it would be either Kyley Verploegen or fellow senior Ryen Olson. Verploegen has averaged 4.9 points and five rebounds off the bench this season, while Olson has scored 4.1 points. She is also third on the team with nine 3-pointers and a shooting percentage of 30 from beyond the arc. Filling the void offensively will be one of the first priorities for the Ponies, but maintaining their excellence defensively will be even more important. Havre is leading Class A in points allowed by a wide margin coming into the week, giving up just 32.1 per game. That’s four points better than Hamilton, which is second at 36.2 points allowed.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Ryen Olson and the Havre High girls basketball team looks to stay perfect on the season when the Blue Ponies play at Livingston tonight, and Belgrade Saturday. HHS is one of just three teams giving up less than 40 points a game but is also the only team

in the state that is averaging more than 60 a game on offense. The Ponies are currently

averaging 63.7 ppg, but even if you take out Keller’s 20 points, Havre would still average 43.7,

which is better than 12 teams in Class A. The Ponies also scored 57 points in a road win over No.

4 Browning last Friday, a game that saw Keller exit in the first quarter. The focal points for Havre offensively will likely be seniors Danielle Wallace and Marca Herron. Wallace (10.7 ppg) is the second-leading scorer for the Ponies, followed by Herron, who is averaging 7.4 points per game and making 44 percent of her shots from 3-point range. Kadia Miller and Kaylee Nystrom are other key contributors, along with Kylie Walker and Katie Wirtzberger. Awaiting the Ponies tonight in Livingston, is a Ranger’s team that is 0-3 in the Central A and 3-7 overall. Livingston has the third-worst defense in Class A, allowing 53.9 points a night, but scores just 45.1. Kodie Vondra leads the Rangers in scoring with 11.2 points. The other threat is Danielle Babcox, who scores 7.7 points and grabs 8.2 rebounds. On Saturday, Havre will face Belgrade, a much more formidable opponent. Belgrade is 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the Central A. The Panthers, who made the state tournament a season ago, are Havre’s closest contender in the Central A and could make the race for first in the league a legitimate one, if they can upset the third-ranked Ponies Saturday. Belgrade also has two of the top scorers in Class A on its side in Gabby Weber (13.7 ppg) and Kiah Hohenstein (13.1 ppg). Yet, the Panthers are middle of the road defensively, ranking 14th in Class with an average of 47.2 points allowed. “These are two very important games,” Kraske said. “If one of the kids’ goals is to win the league, which I know it is, these are two games that we need to win. I think both teams have gotten better. I think we have, too. So we are expecting two really good games in a row. Our kids have had a really good week of practice, but our mental preparation needs to be really good because the scores in December are irrelevant. Big conference weekend for us.” The Ponies will open the weekend tonight against Livingston at 7:30. Havre will then tip off against Belgrade Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Both games are on the road. Published 1-19-2018


C3

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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Pony girls slip past Browning on the road Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Through the first nine games of the season, the Havre High girls basketball team has rarely been challenged. Havre had played some ranked teams in Class B, but none in Class A, which made last Friday’s contest in Browning, so highly anticipated. The Indians came in as the No. 4 team in the Class A and for the most part, they were able to hang with the third-ranked Blue Ponies, who won the game 5750. Making the win even more impressive was the fact that the Ponies did most of their work without Kyndall Keller, the leading scorer in Class A girls basketball, who was limited to

Kraske said. “She looked to get to the bucket a little more and she did a nice job.” Starting in the second quarter, Havre started to take advantage of its size inside. Kyley Verploegen came off the bench and scored six points. Kaylee Nystrom also added five points in the stanza and the Ponies found themselves leading 33-21 at halftime. In the third quarter, Browning started to find a rhythm offensively and the Indians were able to score 14 points. However, thanks to a seven-point stretch from Herron, that also included her third make from beyond the arc, HHS maintained an 11-point lead going into the fourth, 4635. Over the last eight minutes, Browning was able to creep closer and closer to the Ponies, before finally getting within two possessions with around three

just a few minutes of play and two points because of an ankle injury. “The kids really stepped up,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “It was a total team effort. Browning has a good team, but our kids really started off well. And we came out after halftime, Browning made a little run, but we held our ground. We got some baskets from pretty much everybody, so that was nice.” Yet, even without Keller, the Ponies still managed to jump on the Indians early. Senior point guard Marca Herron helped pick up the scoring slack with Keller out and got things going early with two 3-pointers. Kadia Miller also scored four firstquarter points and Havre led after one 18-9. “Marca was aggressive,”

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Kaylee Nystrom and the Havre High girls basketball team improved to 10-0 on the season with a road win over former Central A rival Browning Friday night.

■ See Browning Page C7

Havre girls blow by Rocky Boy at home Chris Peterson

seven points, and when it was all said and done, all 11 players who dressed out for Havre scored at least two points. “I don’t know what percentage we shot,” Kraske said, “but I know it was really good. The kids are just ready to go. It’s just awesome basketball. How many shots did we force tonight? Early when the game mattered, one or two. We are sharing the basketball really well, everyone is involved, everyone is working hard. That is the sign of a team, team, team.” The third-ranked Ponies will now take their 9-0 record into Browning tonight, for a showdown with the No. 4 team in Class A. The Indians, formerly of the Central A, are now in the Northwest A, where they are

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com To say that the Havre High girls basketball team has been starting fast this season is an understatement. The Blue Ponies' domination in the first quarter has been a key part of their undefeated record. And Thursday night in the HHS gymnasium, the Rocky Boy Morning Stars were the latest to fall victim to one of the Ponies’ frenzied starts, as a 26-4 run early in the game, helped Havre blow out its closest rival 81-38. “Our kids’ energy has just been fantastic,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Their mental thoughts and preparation has really led to us playing really well, particularly early. I just think our kids are coming out of the locker room ready to go. Defensively they are ready to go and they have just that mindset, and that’s something I really, really like.” Senior Marca Herron agreed with her head coach. “We have good team chemistry and we really click together,” She said. “It’s just kind of easy for us right now.” Of course, beating a 6-2 team, like Rocky Boy was coming into the game, is no easy task. The Morning Stars are a contender in the Northern B and for the first few minutes they played like it, as a Adrienne Gopher threepointer helped them get a 3-0 lead. It would be their only lead of the night. Sophomore Kadia Miller got things going early for Havre with five points, courtesy of a threepoint play. Another three-point play, this one via Kyndall Keller, put Havre in front 10-4. From there, the floodgates opened. Keller connected from three, then Herron and Ryen Olson buried shots from beyond the arc and in the blink of an eye, Havre led 27-8. The Ponies soon got another three-point play, their third of the first quarter, and a fourth trey from Kylie Walker, which helped propel the Ponies to a 35-

currently 4-0. The two teams will tip-off at 7. “It will be a good test for us,” Kraske said. “If scores mean anything, it will give us a chance to see with Browning playing the whole Northwest A, maybe it will give us a snapshot, maybe, of how we stack up.” Havre 81, Rocky Boy 38 Rocky Boy 12 7 11 8 - 38 Havre 35 20 18 8 - 81 Rocky Boy - Jaynah Gopher 2, Sean Henry 17, Sasha Coffe 5, Naomi Daychild 3, Rochelle Pease 4. Adrienne Gopher 7. Havre - Ryen Olson 10, Kyndall Keller 17, Kylie Walker 5, Kassidy Compton 3, Kaylee Nystrom 2, Kadia Miller 7, Marca Herron 12, Katie Wirtzberger 4, Loy Waid 2, Kyley Verploegen 4.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre's Kyndall Keller, right, handles the ball during Thursday night's game between the Blue Ponies and Class B Rocky Boy at the HHS gymnasium. The Ponies started fast and never looked back in their ninth win of the season. 12 advantage after the opening eight minutes. “We really feed off each other,” Herron said. “We get really excited when we see each other making shots and that just gets our tempo going and we start making things happen.” It’s been a common theme. Thursday was the third 70-point game of the season for Havre and the fourth time it forced a running clock due to the mercy rule in the second half of play. “I think we have kids that are really looking to score,” Kraske said. “We want to catch the ball to score and we are doing a much better job of that. Kadia,

she came out and did a great job there of being aggressive in the first quarter. That was great to see from her. Overall, we are just playing with a lot of confidence.” In the second quarter, it was the same old story. Herron hit from beyond the arc early, followed shortly by Keller, who drilled her second trey to put Havre in front 45-14. Keller scored would score six more points before the first half closed, giving her 15. It also led to a commanding 55-19 lead for the Ponies. In the third quarter, the hot shooting continued for the Ponies. Olson made a two-point

shot from just inside the arc. Then, to put the cherry on top of an incredible scoring night, Herron came through with a rare four-point play, knocking down a three-pointer as she was knocked to the ground. “That was pretty exciting. I wasn’t expecting that to happen,” Herron said. “I kind of flopped a little, I think, but it went in, so that was nice.” It was Herron’s third triple of the night, which led to a 12point outing for the senior. Keller tied Sean Henry of the Morning Stars with a game-high 17, and Olson also pitched in with 10. Miller also contributed with

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Rocky Boy's Sean Henry goes to the basket during Thursday night's game in Havre. The Morning Stars are one of the top teams in the Northern B, but they couldn't keep up with their Class A rivals from Havre. For more photos, go to www.havredailynews.com. Published 1-12-2018

Perfect Havre girls look to keep it rolling against Rocky Boy, Browning Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team has dominated just about every team that has crossed its path this season. But in the next two days, the Blue Ponies will face some of their toughest competition yet. That’s because starting tonight, the Ponies will face two teams with 6-2 records on backto-back nights. Havre will welcome Rocky Boy into the HHS gymnasium tonight for a renewal of their rivalry with the Morning Stars at 7, followed by a visit to Browning Friday, which is also slated to start at 7 p.m. “The kids are excited to play,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “I don’t know how much they think of it as a rivalry game (Rocky Boy). It has been the same week as Browning a lot and because Browning was in our conference, they got more attention because that is just our philosophy. But now they aren’t and this week has been a little different. It isn’t quite the same, so now it’s just working on doing our thing.” While the Ponies don’t prepare overly hard for non-conference opponents, they have still been pretty good at beat-

ing them this season, boasting a 5-0 record outside of the Central A. Yet, the truth is, Havre has been on another level than most of the teams it has faced this season. The Ponies have only had one game decided by single digits and that was an eight point win over Great Falls High. Outside of that, only two Havre victories have come by fewer than 30 points. Havre's average margin of victory this season is 30 points. HHS is scoring 59.6 per game and holding its opponents to 29. In fact, only one team, Fairfield, which scored 42, has scored at least 40. However, what makes the Havre girls such a threat is they are still looking for ways to get better. “We have a lot of things we can do better,” Kraske said. “We can do a better job of getting everyone to catch the ball and look to score. We don’t always do that. If we are playing man, then we need to get up and guard our guy. There are things we do 90 percent of the time that we need to do a 100 percent of the time. So it’s a lot of those little things that make the difference and that’s what we are focused on. These kids really focus on doing the little things right and that’s exciting because it’s only January.” Havre has always had a rep-

utation as a great defensive team, but led by Kyndall Keller, who scores more than 20 per game, the Ponies are becoming a dangerous offensive team, too. Danielle Wallace is also averaging double figures with 10.7 ppg, followed by Marca Herron (7.1 ppg) and Kaylee Nystrom (6.9). Wallace is the team’s leading rebounder. Nystrom leads in steals and assists and Keller leads in three-point shooting, knocking down 44 percent of her shots from deep. Herron is also hitting 41 percent from beyond the arc. In Rocky Boy, the Ponies face a team that is both talented and experienced. The Morning Stars only losses have come against Harlem and Fairfield. The Morning Stars boast players like Adrienne Gopher, Sasha Coffee, Sean Henry and Jaylynn Mitchell. “I like them,” Kraske said. “I think they have a good team. They have some good returning players, and I think it will be a good challenge for us.”

After taking on the Stars tonight in Havre, the Ponies will travel to Browning to take on their old Central A rivals in a battle of top-five teams. The Ponies are third in the latest girls basketball poll and Browning, which is 4-0 in the Northwest A, is No. 4. The Indians have a talented lineup that averages 62 ppg. Four players, led by Tameka Guardipee (12.2. ppg) are averaging double figures. The others are Dulci Skunkcap (11.8 ppg), Taylor Jordan (10.8 ppg) and Ronnel Jordan (10.6 ppg). “Guardipee, she is a heck of a player,” Kraske said. “It’s going to be fun. I love playing down there, and I think it will be fun to play a good team, a really good class A opponent. Ray (Augare, Browning head coach) does a really good job. It should be a good test for us. I am excited about it.” Havre and Rocky Boy will play tonight at 7 inside the HHS gymnasium. The Ponies will play the Indians Friday in Browning at 7 p.m.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Danielle Wallace is one of Havre High's top offensive players in a season in which the Blue Ponies have yet to lose a single game. Havre's schedule gets tougher this week, however, as the Ponies host Class B Rocky Boy tonight and then travel to former Central A rival Browning Friday night. Tonight's game tips at 7 inside the HHS gymnasium. Published 1-11-2018


C4

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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Eagles can’t soar against powerful Ponies Havre High girls stay perfect after a sweep of Fairfield and Lewistown Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team has high standards for itself. And despite beating Fairfield by 15 points Friday night, the Blue Ponies weren’t satisfied with their performance. And they took it out on Lewistown. After beating Fairfield on the road Friday night, 57-42, the Ponies returned to the HHS gymnasium Saturday night ready to make a point. And against their Central A rivals, they made quite the statement, using a 27-0 first quarter run to beat Lewistown 75-20. “(Saturday morning) when we got together, we talked about how our level of play and how our enthusiasm (in Fairfield) wasn’t what it should be,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And geez, we just came out and did a great job. Every kid, was ready to go. It was awesome.” Using a man-to-man full-court press to open the game, the Ponies tormented the Eagles, who turned the ball over repeatedly in the opening stanza. At the same time, Havre got hot from the three-point range. Marca Herron used a couple of steals to score five points, getting a three-point play and a layup. Then Ryen Olson hit twice from beyond the arc. Freshman Kylie Walker also hit from deep and senior Danielle Wallace scored to beat the buzzer, giving HHS a 27-0 lead. “What I liked about it (press),” Kraske said, “was that it wasn’t anything fancy. It was just ‘I am going to guard my guy’ and I really, really was impressed with our kids in that. They played with a very high level of enthusiasm.” In the second quarter, Kyn-

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Marca Herron goes to the basket during the Blue Ponies' dominating win over Lewistown Saturday night at the HHS gymnasium. The Ponies moved to 8-0 with victories over the Eagles and Fairfield Friday night. For more photos, go to www.havredailynews.com.

dall Keller hit twice from deep. Then, Kaylee Nystrom knocked down a trey which made it 40-8. By halftime the Ponies led 5210. In the second half, the clock was running the entire time, yet HHS still outscored the Eagles 23-11. Keller put forth a dominant performance. She outscored the Eagles by herself, as she finished with a game-high 29 points. She was the only Pony who scored in double figures, but Nystrom and Kyley Verploegen also pitched in with eight points, as did Walker. Olson and

Wallace both finished with six and Herron had five. “Yeah, all of those guys just kind of shot the lights out,” Kraske said. “But it gets that way sometimes when you make some layups, then all of a sudden, it’s not that the floodgates open, but the rim gets much bigger.” Friday night in Fairfield, the Ponies didn’t find scoring the basketball so easy. Havre did jump out to an 11-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and outscored the Eagles 20-12 in the second to take a 31-17 lead at

the intermission. But Fairfield continued to hang around. The Eagles trimmed the lead down to 11, going into the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t get much closer and lost by 15. Keller had another stellar night for the Ponies and led all scorers with 20 points. The sophomore is now averaging 20.3 ppg this season. Wallace also had another solid night with 10 and Herron, a fellow senior, matched her with 10 points of her own. Kaitlyn James led Fairfield with 12 and Kenna Pitcher had 10.

“We won the game, but I thought we could have played a lot harder,” Kraske said. “And that’s what I was asking of them (Saturday) against Lewistown.” Havre (8-0) will host Rocky Boy Thursday night at 7, before hitting the road Saturday to take on long-time rival Browning, in what is now a non-conference game.

dia Miller 2, Marca Herron 10, Danielle Wallace 10, Loy Waid 2, Kyley Verlploegen 7

Havre 11 20 12 14 - 57 Fairfield 5 12 15 10 - 42

Havre: Ryen Olson 6, Kyndall Keller 29, Kylie Walker 8, Kaylee Nystrom 8, Kadia Miller 3, Marca Herron 5, Katie Wirtzberger 2, Danielle Wallace 6, Kyley Verploegen 8.

Havre 57, Fairfield 42

Havre: Kyndall Keller 20, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Ka-

Fairfield: Alexis McWilliams 4, Naemi Wiot 9, Emily Clotfeller 7, Kenna Pitcher 10, Kaityln James 12 Havre 75, Lewistown 21 Lewistown 0 10 8 3 - 21 Havre 27 25 16 7 - 75 Lewistown: G. Butcher 5, H. Hays 2, H. Potter 5, M. Mangold 3, K. Nelson 2, Z Zimmer 4.

Semifinals:

Published 1-8-2018

■ Continued from page B6 minutes to go in regulation. Yet, Miles City tied the game up and Kaden Stradley of the Cowboys drew a foul with just 5.4 seconds to go. And ultimately, he made both free throws, despite throwing up on the floor after the first attempt. Following a timeout, Stadley made the second free throw, putting the Cowboys in front by two. Havre still had five seconds, but turned the ball over and didn’t attempt a shot that could have tied or won the game. The Ponies are now 3-16

on the season and will play Sidney tonight at 5 to keep their season alive. “We had a chance to get a couple stops and a get a couple of buckets that would have really helped us and we just couldn’t get them,” HHS head coach Curt Leeds said. “But I thought our kids played really hard. They played well together and that was as good a game as we have played all season offensively.” Havre fell behind early to Miles City 9-5, but a 3-pointer

with the clock running down in the first quarter by Tommy Brown got the Ponies within one, 11-10. Stradley scored seven points early in the second quarter to give the Cowboys a 20-15 advantage, but an 8-0 run to close the first half gave the Ponies a 23-22 lead after two quarters of play. In the third quarter, Havre pushed its lead to as many as five points, following a bucket from Brown, plus two steals and two layups by Ivar Aageson, which gave HHS a 31-26 lead.

Yet, a 7-2 run by the Cowboys, tied the score at 33-33 heading into the fourth. Trey Murphy put the Ponies in front early in the fourth with a layup, 37-35. Then another bucket by Murphy and two more from Irvin put Havre up four with just over two minutes to play. Yet, it would be the last score of the game for the Ponies, who would go on to lose by two, after a 6-0 run by Miles City to end the game. Brown, a junior, led all scorers for Havre with 11 points.

Irvin, a senior, also reached double figures with 10 in the loss. Havre and Sidney will meet tonight at 5 in Billings. The winner stays alive in the divisional tournament, the loser goes home, for the rest of the season. “I think if we play the way we did against Miles City, we will have a good chance,” Leeds said. “We really played together and did a nice job of sharing the basketball. If we can play a little better defense, we should be able to have some success.”

Miles City 45, Havre 43 Miles City 11 11 11 12 — 45 Havre

10 13 10 10 — 43

Miles City: Gabe Gundlach 2, Kaden Stradley 20, Jess Bellows 3, Steven Ray 17, Jayden Venable 3. Havre: Tanner Parsons 8, Jacob Irvin 10, Thomas Brown 11, Ivar Aageson 8, Trey Murphy 6.

Havre girls look to keep it rolling in 2018 Undefeated Ponies return to the hardwood with games against a pair of tough Eagles Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team is off to a perfect 6-0 start this season, and after a few weeks off for the holidays, the Blue Ponies are ready to get back to the court and back to their winning ways. Yet, after not playing since Dec. 21 against Great Falls High, Havre won’t have time to be rusty, as the Ponies start the second part of their schedule tonight in Fairfield, against the defending Class B state champions. The Ponies and Eagles will meet tonight at 7. Havre will then return home to host Lewistown Saturday. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. inside the HHS gymnasium. “Fairfield is going to be a challenge,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Winning there isn’t easy. They don’t have the same team they did last year, but Dustin Gordon does a great job and he will have them ready to go. For us, we are just focusing on continuing to improve and get better.” As far as the Ponies are concerned, they have been ready to go from the opening tap this season. Havre has played well on both sides of the ball on its way to six straight wins. Offensively, HHS is averaging 60

points per game and shooting 40 percent as a team from the field. While the Ponies boast a balanced attack offensively, the key cogs are sophomore Kyndall Keller and senior Danielle Wallace. Keller, who earned AllState honors as a freshman, has taken her game to another level this season, averaging 19 points, six rebounds and three steals per night. She is also averaging more than eight free-throw attempts per game. As a team, Havre is averaging close to 18. Keller is the leading scorer, but Wallace has also been a steady presence inside for the Ponies and she is scoring 10.8 points and also grabbing a team-high seven rebounds per night. Another key performer for Havre this season has been Kaylee Nystrom, who averages seven points per game, in addition to four steals and three assists. She leads the team in both categories. Fellow senior Marca Herron has also been a solid contributor with an average of 6.7 points. She is also the Ponies leading 3-point shooter, as she is knocking down 44 percent of her shots beyond the arc. But as good as Havre has been offensively, the strength of the team is still its defense. The Ponies are allowing opponents to score just 31.6 ppg and have yet to allow a team to score 40 points in a game this season. “I think the biggest thing for us is that our kids just continue to work really hard,” Kraske said. “I think at times we have had lapses, but I see some of our younger players starting to get better and better, especially over the break. Our kids are just really committed to it and I think they have just decided they are going to work really

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Kyndall Keller, right, and the Havre High girls start 2018 off by traveling to defending Class B state champion Fairfield tonight. The Blue Ponies then come home to take on Central A rival Lewistown on Saturday night.

hard and that’s it.” Of course, Fairfield has also been known for having an outstanding defensive program and this season, the Eagles are solid again, allowing opponents to score 49 points per game. However, on the other end, Fairfield has struggled to score, getting just 46 points a game.

After stepping out of the Central A conference tonight, the Ponies will return to conference play Friday, when Lewistown comes calling. It will be the third and final Central A home game this season for Havre (6-0, 2-0). “It’s kind of funny how that worked out,” Kraske said. “We

are already done with half our conference schedule and all of the games have been at home. But it’s an important game. (Lewistown) has a new coach, and she is doing a good job.” Lewistown, which comes in averaging just 39 points per game, is led by Anna Zimmer, who averages 9.6 PPG. The Ea-

gles other top scorers are Hanna Hayes (8.0 PPG) and Haydn Potter (7.2 PPG). Havre will open its two-game stretch this weekend tonight in Fairfield at 7. Havre and Lewistown will play Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Published 1-5-2018


C5

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

Pony girls corral the Bison; HHS boys fall Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The Havre High girls basketball team didn’t have a great shooting night against Great Falls High. But in the end, the Blue Ponies didn’t need to shoot the ball well because what they were able to do defensively was more than enough to win. “Yeah, it was weird,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We had a lot of good shots; we just couldn’t get them to go in.” If they had, Havre probably would have won handily. Instead, the Ponies had to rely on defense to beat the Class AA Bison, and after allowing just four points and no field goals to the Bison in the fourth quarter, HHS earned a 47-39 win, Friday night in the HHS gymnasium. “At halftime, we talked before the coaches came in,” Kaylee Nystrom said, “and us seniors spoke up, and I think that really helped.” Whether it was the halftime speech or something else, the Ponies certainly defended better in the second half. Great Falls High scored 28 points in the first half and the game was tied at intermission. But in the second half, the Bison scored just 11. The Ponies only managed 18, but it was enough to get to 6-0 on the season. Havre won’t play again until Jan. 5 in Fairfield. “It feels really nice actually,” Nystrom said of being 6-0. “I wasn’t surprised, I knew that we could do it, but it still feels good.” Nystrom, and her relentless effort on defense, was a big reason why the Ponies won. The senior finished the game with

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre's Kaylee Nystrom, left, goes up for a layup during last Friday's game against Great Falls High in the HHS gymnasium. The Blue Ponies beat the Bison, 47-39. For more photos from the game, go to www.havredailynews.com. 10 points, but seven of them, came off steals near her own basket. Those seven points always seemed to come at important moments in the game, like the final steal and score that put Havre up 41-37 with 6:05 left to

play. “I don’t know. I think I just get really mad,” Nystrom said of her ability to steal the ball. “I just try to be the workhorse for the team, that’s my job. I just try to get in their (offensive players)

Published 12-26-2017

Browning: ■ Continued from page B7 where we wanted it to be in the second half, especially by the end of the third quarter,” Kraske said. “Browning is a very good basketball team, and they hung tough for a lot of this game. But I think our defensive pressure, and us constantly wanting to push the ball up offensively, I think it wore them down. That’s a credit to our kids because even when we weren’t playing as well as could have in the first half, they kept playing hard and kept doing what we do.” The Ponies certainly did. Their pressure forced 22 Browning turnovers, while on the offensive end, Keller finished with a game-high 23 points, including a brilliant 14-for-17 performance from the charity stripe. And the senior trio of Nystrom, Herron and Verpolegen each scored 11 points on what turned out to be a very special night for the Blue

Ponies. “Happy for the kids,” Kraske said. “It’s always fun to end your home schedule with a game like this. Browning is a very good basketball team, but gosh, our kids played really well.” Saturday night saw the Blue Ponies continue their winning ways with a hard-fought, 62-56 win at Rocky Boy. Havre led the Morning Stars from start-to-finish, but Rocky Boy hung tough, with Adrienne Gopher scoring a game-high 26 points. Keller led Havre with 25 points, while Herron scored 18 and Wallace added 12. The Ponies are now 16-0 on the season, with two games left. Tonight, they make up a postponed game with the Lewistown Eagles in Lewistown, followed by their regular season finale at Class AA CMR on Tuesday night.

Havre 72, Browning 53 Browning 8 17 14 14 — 53 Havre 12 18 15 27 — 72 Browning: W. Running Crane 2, Polk 2, Hall 8, T. Jordan 7, R. Jordan 20, Old Person 2, Skunkcap 4, T. Running Crane 3, Guardipee 5. Havre: Kyndall Keller 23, Kaylee Nystrom 11, Kadia Miller 2, Marca Herron 11, Katie Wirtzberger 9, Loy Waid 1, Kyley Verploegen 11. Havre 62, Rocky Boy 56

face.” After Nystrom gave Havre a four-point lead, Kyndall Keller pushed it to seven with a 3-pointer with around four minutes left. From there, the Ponies iced the game on defense, allowing just

Tonight, both Havre High basketball teams will take on Great Falls High in their final game before the holiday break. And while both teams are looking for a win, their motivations, are slightly different. The Blue Pony girls, who are 5-0, will be looking to keep their undefeated record against a Class AA opponent. The Pony boys, on the other hand, are 2-3 and looking to win a second straight game and get back to .500 before a two-week break. So either way you slice it, it’s a big game for both teams. The Havre girls will play Great Falls tonight at 7 inside the HHS gymnasium. The boys will play the Bison in Great Falls. Tip-off time in that is set for 5. Of course, the boys basketball game between Havre and Great Falls was always important. Until last season, the two teams played for the Ole Goat, a traveling trophy that went between the two schools. Great Falls High has held it since the early 1990s and last season, when the schools reduced their season series from two games to one, the trophy was retired. Yet, according to Havre head coach Curt Leeds, the game still means plenty. “I don’t know if they will be fired up that way,” Leeds said. “But how do you not get fired up for a basketball game at any point in time? As a kid, you only get so many of them, so I think you should be fired up for any game and want to work hard with your teammates to achieve a goal and that goal would be to win that game.” When the Ponies have won games this season, it has been because of defense. Havre has scored 50 points or more just once this season and in the other four games, they have been held under 40. For the season, Havre is averaging 38 points a game, led by Ivar Aageson (8.8 ppg) and Jacob Irvin (8.2 ppg). Yet, in the Ponies to wins, they have averaged just 41 points and in their win Tuesday night in Malta, Havre scored just 36, but won by nine after holding Malta to 27 points on 26 percent shooting. “I think our kids can keep playing defense like they did that night (Malta),” Leeds said. “I think that our defense has been solid all year. We do need to do a better job of blocking out because we have given up some offensive rebounds and we can’t do that against a team like Great Falls High with a lot of size.”

Published 1-9-2018

Great Falls 12 16 7 4 - 39 Havre 14 14 9 10 - 47 Great Falls: Erin Hocker 10, Morgan Johnson 1, Katie Nicholson 7, Annie Toon 2, Jorgie Hawthorne 3, Gracie Lins 3, Morgan Sunchild 6, Erin Watt 7. Havre: Kyndall Keller 20, Kaylee Nystrom 10, Kadia Miller 3, Marca Herron 3, Danielle Wallace 11. Great Falls 65, Havre Boys 41 Havre 6 12 10 13 - 41 Great Falls 11 19 14 21 - 65 Havre: Tanner Parsons 6, Thomas Brown 3, Ivar Aageson 5, Austin DeLaRosa 3, Tysen Sangrey 3, Trey Murphy 15, Austin Jones 4, Kellen Detrick 2. Great Falls: Hunter McKinney 12, Kendall Kynett 4, Riley Callery 6, Blake Thelen 15, Kyle Torgerson 11, Cash Abbott 9, Teagan Olson 2, Kevin Boes 2, Keegan Bistodeau 4.

Chris Peterson

Havre: Keller 25, Nystrom 2, Miller 3, Herron 18, Wallace 12, Verploegen 2.

Harlem’s Brad Cichosz is just a sophomore. But he’s playing like a veteran for the surging Wildcats. Cichosz came out of Christmas break averaging around 19 points per game, including a pair of 27-point outings before the break. But Friday night, he topped that with a game-high 30 points in Harlem’s 66-41 win over Glasgow. Cichosz has helped the Wildcats emerge as a major factor in the District 2B as they are now 4-0 in conference play under new head coach Cole McCabe.

Havre Girls 47, Great Falls 39

Blue Pony boys close out 2017 in Great Falls Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com

The Havre High girls basketball team is 8-0 after two impressive wins over the weekend. And sophomore Kyndall Keller showed no signs of rust from the holiday break. In Friday’s win at Class B state champion Fairfield, Keller scored 20 points to lead the Blue Ponies, but she wasn’t done. Havre returned home Saturday night and blew out Central A rival Lewistown, with Keller pouring in a season-high 29 points. Keller, an All-State selection last season, is now averaging just over 23 points per night.

Falls High Friday, but the Havre boys basketball team played the Bison on the road the same day. In that game, the result was much different as the Bison easily defeated Havre by a score of 65-41. The Ponies kept it close early, trailing just 11-6 at the end of the first quarter. But a 19-point second quarter by Great Falls High made it 30-18 at halftime. The lead was 16 going into the fourth quarter, and HHS didn’t really get any closer. Blake Thelen scored 15 points to lead the Bison to victory. Hunter McKinney added 12 and Kyle Torgerson finished with 11. Trey Murphy led the Ponies with 15 points. Tanner Parsons had six and Ivar Aageson ended up with five. The Havre boys (2-4) will play next on the road Jan. 5 against Fairfield.

HHS girls host Class AA Bison

Havre 12 12 24 14 — 62 Rocky Boy 9 12 18 17 — 56

Rocky Boy: Sean Henry 12, Sasha Coffee 11, Adrienne Gopher 26, Jaylynn Mitchell 3, Rochelle Pease 4. Published 2-12-2018

two free throws in the last six minutes of the game. “We kind of talked at halftime that we didn’t have the energy defensively that we need to have,” Kraske said. “And obviously, our kids responded and did a good job. They were kind of pumping themselves up before I even came in. They were working to address that themselves and I appreciated that.” While Nystrom had 10 points and five steals, Keller led all scorers in the game with 20. Thirteen of those came in the first half before she got into foul trouble, but her 3-pointer late proved to be a dagger. Danielle Wallace also pitched in with 11. Erin Hocker led the Bison with 10, while Erin Watt wound up with seven. “All our kids played really hard defensively,” Kraske said. “I thought Kadia Miller, I am not sure if she is scoring or making a bucket, but that’s not her role and she did a nice job. Ryen Olson came in and did a nice job. Kyley Verploegen came in and battled her rear end off. That was nice to see. Kylie Walker struggled and then had a really good second half, and I thought that youngster is doing a really good job.” Not only did Havre get the win because of its stellar defense in the second half, the Ponies also held their opponent to less than 40 points for the sixth straight time this season. “We are really pleased, Great Falls High has a really nice team and it was good to get them,” Kraske said. “I think us being 2-0 in the league is the most important thing, and I think we have a lot of learning ahead of us and that’s going to be really fun.” The girls team hosted Great

Like you would expect with a Class AA team, the Bison have

in steals and assists with 3.5 per game in each category.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Ryen Olson, left, and the Havre High girls finish the 2017 portion of their schedule tonight when they host Class AA Great Falls High in the HHS gymnasium. The Pony boys are in Great Falls to take on the Bison. plenty of size as their entire offensive lineup stands at basically 6-3 or 6-4. Last season, behind the play of All-State performer Matt Howard, the Bison were 17-6 and finished third at the state tournament. This year, the Bison are off to a solid start, with a couple of early wins. Even without Howard, they still have some talented players such as Blake Thelen and Kendall Kynett, who were each starters a season ago. While the Havre boys are looking to even up their record tonight, the girls are hoping to extend their perfect start to 6-0. In five games to start the season, the Ponies have been nothing short of dominant. Defensively, they are limiting opponents to just 30 points per game. On the other end, the Ponies are averaging 63, which also gives them an average margin of victory of 33 points. A driving force behind the early season success for Havre has been the play of All-State sophomore Kyndall Keller, who is averaging 18.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, which rank first and second on the team. She also leads the team in blocks, is second in steals and third in assists. Danielle Wallace, Havre’s leading rebounder at 6.6, is also its other double-digit scorer. She is averaging 10.8 points and making 56 percent of her shot attempts. Marca Herron is third on the team in scoring with 7.4 points per game. She also ranks second in assists. Kaylee Nystrom, another senior, leads the team

Facing Havre inside the HHS gymnasium is a Great Falls High team that is still finding its way. The Bison won their first game of the season, but have suffered a couple of blowout losses since then. They also don’t have any returning starters from a team that beat Havre in Great Falls last season, but athletically, they will still pose a challenge. “I haven’t seen them a lot, just a little on film, but they look like a AA team,” Kraske said. “They are an athletic team and they have some size. They will probably play a couple of girls inside at the same time, which is something we haven't seen much yet. Jerry (Schmitz Great Falls High head coach), he does a good job. They have a good program.” The top player on the floor for the Bison will be Erin Watt, who is averaging around 14 points per game this season and is a threat as an outside shooter. Katie Nicholson and Jorgie Hawthorne are two other solid contributors. Over the years, Havre has had success against both Great Falls High and CMR, but last season, the Ponies were 0-2, which has the team motivated to get a win tonight while playing up. “I think any time you play a class up, you get excited about it,” Kraske said. “At least you would hope so. For us it’s a chance to play a good team at home and that is exciting.” The Havre boys and Great Falls High will play tonight at 5 in Great Falls. The Pony girls will host Great Falls High inside the HHS gymnasium at 7. Published 12-22-2017


C6

2018 Class A

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

Monday, March 26, 2018

www.havredailynews.com

Ponies play in Malta Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Going as far back as anyone can remember, there has always been a rivalry between the basketball teams of Havre High school and Malta. And tonight, in Malta, both the boys and girls teams will renew it. The Havre boys will take on Malta in the first of a doubleheader between the two schools at 6 p.m. The girls game between Havre and Malta will follow right after at 7:30 p.m. Yet, there is going to be something different about this season’s matchups, especially from a Malta perspective. Last season, the Malta boys won the Class B state championship. The girls, on the other hand, fell short of another title, but still finished as the Class B runner-up.

But this season, the Malta girls, who lost all five of their starters, including Sophia Stiles to the University of Montana, are in the middle of a rebuild. The M-Ettes started the season 0-3 under head coach Nate Hammond and have just a few players back from a season ago in Ella Schye, Kyleigh Schipman and Taylor Gilkerson. The fact that the M-Ettes are reloading, gives the Havre girls basketball its first chance to win in Malta in years. It has always been a tough place for the Blue Ponies to win, even during the successful run under current head coach Dustin Kraske, but with Havre looking as strong as ever in its 4-0 start, HHS enters the game as the heavy favorite. “Playing down in Malta is always a challenge,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Malta doesn’t have the team that they have had in the past, but we

are just focused on playing our game and doing what we can to improve.” Yet, whether the Pony girls are playing Malta or someone from the ranks of Class AA, the fact that they have Kyndall Keller, one of the top girls basketball players in the state, will always give them a fighting chance. Keller is currently averaging 20 points a game for the Ponies, thanks in part to a season-high 26 points in a win over Livingston last Thursday. However, Keller is far from the only scoring threat on the Ponies. Danielle Wallace, a senior post player, has also acquitted herself well early in the 2017-18 season. The senior is scoring just under 11 points per game and is also leading the team in rebounds. Other key contributors for Havre so far this season have been Marca Herron, Kaylee Nystrom, Ryen Olson and Kadia Miller.

“The one thing I really like about this team, it is just seems really balanced,” Kraske said. “The kids really do a good job of playing together. We have some good players inside in Wallace and Kyley Verploegen, they are both working really hard and our guards are working really hard to get them the ball. And Kyndall, she has done a great job of being aggressive, but also getting others involved when the defense focuses a lot of attention on her.” While the Havre girls will see a much different version of Malta than it has seen in past seasons, the Malta boys are also going through a bit of a rebuild. Head coach David Costin, who led the Mustangs to a 22-5 record a season ago and a state title, has just one returning starter, Taylor Matthews from a season ago. Other key players for Malta will be Tel Jensen, Konner Kuehn, Landon VanWichen and Kevin Henry.

Matthews was an All-State selection for the Mustangs, so they do have that going for them, but after a 2-2 start, it’s clear the Mustangs still have work to do. However, the Havre boys, who come into the game 1-3, are in the same boat. Havre is coming off consecutive home losses to Livingston and Belgrade by double digits and are desperately in need of some momentum heading into the holiday break. Winning at Malta could provide that positive feeling, but to do that, the Ponies are going to have a find a way to score more than the 39 points per game they are averaging right now. Ivar Aageson is the leading scorer for the Ponies right now with an average of 9.2 per game. Then Jacob Irvin and Tanner Parsons are both tied for second with an average of 7.8 points. But

as a team, Havre is shooting just 34 percent from the field and just 23 percent from 3-point range, numbers that will have to improve, if Havre is going to notch a road win over Malta tonight. “We just really have to cut back on our turnovers,” HHS head coach Curt Leeds said. “I think that offensively, we are close, we just need to do a better job of playing together and taking better care of the ball. We just aren’t getting enough good shots and we are giving away too many easy buckets. But I think we are right there, we just have to keep getting better, both as players and as a coaching staff.” The Havre boys will play Malta tonight at 6. That will be followed by a matchup between the Havre girls and Malta at 7:30. Both games will be played at the Malta High School gymnasium. Published 12-19-2017

Blue Ponies sweep in Malta Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Winning on the road is never easy. But winning basketball games in Malta is something that has been particularly difficult for both the Havre High boys and girls basketball teams. However, Tuesday night, both Blue Pony teams found a way to win on the road against the traditional Class B power. The Havre boys actually notched their second straight win in Malta, beating the Mustangs 36-27 thanks to an impressive defensive performance. The Havre girls, who are now 5-0, routed Malta by a score of 59-38. The boys played first Tuesday night in Malta and right from the start, it was clear the Ponies

were determined to win with defense. Havre held the Mustangs, the 2017 Class B state champions, to four points as HHS grabbed a 10-4 lead after eight minutes of play. In the second quarter, Havre outscored Malta by just one point, 8-7, which allowed the Ponies to take an 18-11 lead into the half. The third stanza was the only one that saw the Mustangs reach double figures, as they scored 11. However, a 3-pointer in the closing seconds from Havre’s Tommy Brown, gave Havre a 30-22 lead going into the fourth quarter. In the closing minutes of the game, Havre salted away the win with defense. The Ponies held Malta to just 26 percent shooting from the field for the game and in the second half, the

Mustangs were just 6-of-21. That shooting performance led to just five Malta points in the fourth quarter and none in the first five minutes. That allowed the Ponies to wrap up a 36-27 win, which improved their record to 2-3 on the season “The boys played great defense,” HHS head coach Curt Leeds said. “Holding a team to 27 points is impressive.” Jacob Irvin, who scored a key bucket late for Havre, led all scorers with 10 points. Ivar Aageson also contributed with seven and Tommy Brown finished with six. In the second game, the Havre girls took on Malta, the 2017 Class B runner-up. But with no starters returning and no Sophia Stiles for the first time in four years, the M-Ettes were no match for the Ponies.

Yet, early on, Malta was giving Havre all it could handle. The Ponies were able to grab a 10-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, but thanks to a 6-2 Keller run to start the second quarter by the M-Ettes, the Havre lead was reduced to 12-10. But in the final minutes of the first half, the Pony offense exploded, closing the half on a 13-0 that put HHS in front 25-10 at the break. A 3-pointer from Marca Herron made the score 21-10, but a bucket by Kyley Verploegen, then a steal and score by Kaylee Nystrom right before the buzzer sounded, capped the frantic fin-

ish prior to halftime. In the third quarter, the Ponies turned it on offensively, scoring 20 points and pushing their lead to 45-24. After a 3-pointer by Kyndall Keller in the fourth quarter put the Ponies up 51-27 and when the game went final, the Ponies won by 21. HHS also held its fifth straight opponent below 40 point. Keller scored just four points in the first half, but added 12 in the second to wind up with a game-high 16 for Havre. Herron pitched in with a season-high 14 and Danielle Wallace scored in double figures for the third straight game with 11. Nystrom and Verploegen each added six. The Ponies are now 5-0 on the season and will play host to Great Falls High Thursday night at the HHS gymnasium. Tip-off

is set for (2-3) will in Great start at 5

7 p.m. The Havre boys play against the Bison Falls. That game will p.m.

Havre Boys 36, Malta 27 Havre 10 8 12 6 - 36 Malta 4 7 11 5 - 27 Havre - Jacob Irvin 10, Ivar Aageson 7, Tanner Parsons 5, Austin Delarosa 2, Trey Murphy 3, Laz Windy Boy 3, Tommy Brown 6. Malta - No stats. Havre Girls 59, Malta 38 Havre 10 15 20 14 - 59 Malta 4 6 14 14 - 38 Havre - Kyndall Keller 16, Marca Herron 14, Danielle Wallace 11. Kaylee Nystrom 6, Kyley Verploegen 6, Katie Wirtzberger 2. Malta - No stats. Published 12-20-2017

Stampeding their Rivals: Ponies sweep Havre girls roll over Livingston, Belgrade Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com After two impressive wins to open the season, the Havre High girls basketball team was looking for a repeat performance this past weekend. This time, the Blue Ponies competition was within the Central A conference. And just like Havre did against Glendive and Sidney last weekend, it dominated its opponents defensively. The Blue Ponies allowed a total of 59 points in the two games inside the HHS gymnasium Friday and Saturday night, as they earned consecutive wins over Livingston and Belgrade by the scores of 61-22 and 67-37. “I thought our kids just really came out and set the tone defensively,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And at this point in the season, we put ourselves in the best possible position to win our league and that’s what you want to do.” In the first conference home game Friday against Livingston, the Havre defense limited the Rangers to just four firstquarter points. But on the other end of the floor, Kyndall Keller dominated, scoring the first 15 points of the game, as the Ponies grabbed a 17-4 lead. “She really came out and was on it,” Kraske said. “I am not sure what Livingston was trying to do defensively, but it seemed like she was open a lot. And to her credit, she recognized that and took advantage of it.” The early onslaught continued for Havre, which then allowed the Rangers to score just three points in the second quarter. Freshman Kylie Walker beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer just before half, and at the break, the Ponies led 27-7. In the third quarter, Keller added a 3-pointer, which was later matched by Marca Herron, putting Havre in front 40-16 after three. In the fourth, the Ponies added 21 more points to wrap up the 39-point win. Keller led both teams with 26 points, but Danielle Wallace also pitched in with 12. Kaylee Nystrom added six. Abby Kokot led the Rangers with

six. Danielle Babcox also wound up with five. After easily dispatching of Livingston, Havre turned its attention to Belgrade, a Class A state semifinalist from a season ago, just like the Ponies. And early on, Belgrade lived up to the part, grabbing a 6-2 lead after two quick scores from Gabby Weber. Yet buckets inside by Wallace and Kadia Miller allowed Havre to tie the score at 9-9, then a 3-pointer at the firstquarter buzzer by Ryen Olson put the Ponies ahead 12-9. In the second quarter, Wallace continued to have her way inside, scoring to cap a 9-0 Havre run, which gave HHS a 17-8 lead. Herron then got in on the act, knocking down two triples in short succession to give the Ponies a 23-9 edge. At the half, following a bucket by Keller right before the buzzer, Havre led 35-15. In the third quarter, Wallace seemed to score at will inside as Havre opened up a 44-20 advantage. Olson’s second 3-pointer of the night put the Ponies in front 51-22 and at the end of the quarter, the lead was 53-26. For good measure, Keller hit twice from deep in the final stanza as the Ponies ran away from Belgrade and went on to win by 30, 67-37. Keller finished with a game-high 19 points to lead Havre to the win. Wallace added 16, including nine in the second half. Olson added seven, while Miller, Nystrom and Herron all pitched in with six. Weber led the Panthers with 17. “Danielle, she is doing a really nice job getting open inside,” Kraske said. “And we are doing a good job of getting her the ball. I just think that everyone is playing well right now. You look at Marca Herron, she’s not scoring a ton of points, but she doesn’t need to, her role is to help manage the game.” The Havre girls (4-0) will be on the road for the first time this season Tuesday in Malta. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Havre 61, Livingston 22 Livingston 4 3 9 6 - 22 Havre 17 10 13 21 - 61 Livingston: Kart 3, Saarel 3, Schoenen 1, Vondra 3, Abby Kokot 7, Danielle Babcox 5. Havre: Kyndall Keller 26, Kylie Walker 3, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Kadia Miller 4, Marca Herron 3, Katie Wirtzberger 4, Danielle Wallace 12, Kyley Verlogegan 3. Havre 67, Belgrade 37

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Above: Havre's Kyley Verploegen, left, shoots over a Belgrade defender during Saturday's Central A Conference game at the HHS gymnasium. The Blue Ponies crushed their Central A rival, 67-37. Right: Blue Pony Danielle Wallace, left, hooks a shot during Friday night's game against Livingston at the HHS gymnasium. Havre dominated both Central A opponents this weekend. For more photos from the weekend, go to www.havredailynews.com. Belgrade 9 6 11 11 - 37 Havre 12 23 18 14 - 67 Belgrade — K. Hohenstein 4, Maya Reed 2, Gabby Weber 17, B. Christensen 4, Hannah Gee 6, N. Carlson 4. Havre — Ryen Olson 7, Kyndall Keller 19, Kylie Walker 2, Kassidy Compton 1, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Kadia Miller 6, Marca Herron 6, Danielle Wallace 16, Kyley Verploegen 4. Published 12-18-2017


C7

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

www.havredailynews.com

HHS girls begin Central A play at home Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Over the years, the Havre High girls basketball team has dominated the Central A Conference. And even though the league has a slightly new look this season, the Blue Ponies are out to prove they are still the team to beat. One way they can do that is by holding serve at home against conference opponents, which they will get two chances to do this weekend, starting tonight against Livingston. The two teams will play at approximately 7:30 p.m., followed by a game Saturday against Belgrade, another Central A foe. Tip-off in that comes at 4:30 p.m. “Both of these games are going to be huge,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Livingston and Belgrade are both going to be big games. They are both playing well and coming to our place.” The biggest difference between this season and a year ago in the Central A is the loss of Browning from the conference. The Indians are now part of the Northwest A, which trimmed the Central A down from five teams to four. In basketball, that means there are now just six conference games instead of eight to determine seeding for the Eastern A Divisional Tournament. “I think that we really try to stress with the kids how important these games are,” Kraske said, “so I think they understand. But it’s something that we do try to talk to them about.” Havre’s first conference home game comes tonight against a Livingston team that comes in with a 1-1 record, following a loss to Townsend and a win over Miles City last weekend. The Rangers do return a number of players with experience and those include some of their top scorers from the first two games in Danielle Babcox, Slyvie Schoenen and Kodia Vondra. Babcox is averaging 14.5

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre's Danielle Wallace, left, shoots over a Sidney defender during a Class A game last Friday in Havre. The Blue Ponies are back in the HHS gymnasium this weekend, taking on Central A rivals Livingston tonight and Belgrade Saturday night.

points per game, while Schoenen and Vondra are averaging 11 and 10 points respectively. “They got off to a good start,” Kraske said. “They beat Miles City and they are playing well right now.”

The Rangers got off to a good start by splitting games in their first weekend of play, but Belgrade started even better, winning its two games against Manhattan and Miles City handily, by an average of 21 points.

Like Havre, the Panthers are coming off a trip to the Class A state semifinals and with some key players back from last season, Belgrade has state tournament aspirations again this season.

The Panthers are a deep and athletic team, but so far this season, they have been led by Kiah Hohenstein, who is averaging 21 points per game, along with Gabby Weber, who is scoring 15 points a game. In addition

to its marquee players, Belgrade also had solid depth with Bailey Christensen, Hannah Gee, Ashley Sendon and Maya Reed, who played at Havre when she was a freshman. “Belgrade is also off to a really good start,” Kraske said. “They are a good team. They are athletic and they have a good group of players.” While Belgrade and Livingston both have multiple players scoring in double figures, the Ponies have just one in All-State sophomore Kyndall Keller, who is scoring 17.5 points per game. Yet, the impressive thing about HHS is that it has nine players who are averaging at least five points. Senior Danielle Wallace is second on the team in scoring (7.5 ppg), followed closely by senior guards Marca Herron and Ryen Olson, who each average seven points per game, followed by Kyley Verploegen and Kadia Miller at six and 5.5 points. And lastly, Kaylee Nystrom, Katie Wirtzberger and Kylie Walker all average five a game. However, the most impressive stat registered by the Havre girls this season is the measly 26.5 points per game the Ponies are allowing to opponents. The offense is also scoring 63 points a game, meaning Belgrade and Livingston will have plenty to worry about on both ends of the floor. But for Kraske, winning doesn’t mean doing anything fancy, to him it’s all about the basics. “It’s all about the fundamental things, shooting, passing, catching the basketball,” Kraske said. “We need to sit down and defend. We need to take care of the basketball, talk to each other defensively, get a little better on-ball pressure. We just need to come out and play our style of basketball.” Havre will take on Livingston tonight at 7:30, followed by a game against Belgrade Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Both games will be played inside the HHS gymnasium. Published 12-15-2017

Fast Start: Pony girls dominate in the Corral Havre opens the season by overwhelming Sidney and Glendive Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News sports writer gferguson@havredailynews.com Leading up to the two seasonopening games against Sidney and Glendive this past weekend, Havre High girls basketball coach Dustin Kraske said his team was ready to play someone besides itself in practice each day. With the way the Blue Ponies came out and jumped all over Sidney Friday night at the HHS gymnasium, it appears that he was right. Havre opened its season with a 71-15 win over the Eagles and followed that up with a 55-38 triumph over Glendive, another non-conference opponent from the Eastern A in Havre. “The kids just came out right away and they were on it against Sidney,” Kraske said. “We really sat down and defended. Some of our seniors, Marca Herron and Kaylee Nystrom, they really set the tone for us defensively and really played with a lot of energy early in the game.” Sidney scored first Friday night, but after a 3-pointer by Herron, the Ponies grabbed a 3-2 advantage. From there, Havre’s defensive pressure suffocated the Eagles. Nystrom grabbed two quick steals and two layups and then after six straight points from Kyndall Keller, Havre led 15-2. Keller and the Ponies continued the run in the second quarter, as the sophomore notched a 3-point play put Havre up 30-3. The lead got as big as 33-3, as the

Ponies went on a 33-1 run following the early two-pointer by the Eagles. “I thought the kids really came out and looked sharp,” Kraske said. “I think some of our younger kids had some nerves, but our older kids were ready to go, and they really got us going on both ends of the floor.” The onslaught continued in the second quarter, as treys by Ryen Olson and freshman Kylie Walker extended the Havre lead to 50-11 at halftime. In the third and fourth quarters, the clock was running due to the mercy rule and when it was all said and done, the Ponies walked away with a 56-point victory. Nine different Havre players scored in the win, with a gamehigh 20 points coming from Keller, who was the only Pony to reach double figures. Olson and Herron both added nine, while Walker finished with eight. Nystrom, Kadia Miller and Kyley Verploegen each added six. Madison Thiel scored seven to lead the Eagles. After dispatching the Eagles Friday, Havre turned its attention toward Glendive Saturday, but this time, Havre wasn’t able to grab a big lead out of the gates. The Red Devils hung with the Ponies early, trailing 10-9 after one quarter. Yet, a dominant second stanza for the Ponies broke the game wide open. Havre outscored Glendive 17-6 in the eight-minute stretch, which gave HHS a 27-15 lead at intermission. The Red Devils did manage to trim the lead to single digits by the start of the fourth quarter, but 18 points in the final stanza allowed the Ponies to salt away their second win of the season. “We weren’t quite as sharp as we were (Friday),” Kraske said. “We didn’t have quite the same energy and Glendive is a scrappy team. They are well coached and they play hard. But I thought we played better as the game went

on and were able to do enough defensively to win, even though we had a bit of a tough time offensively.” Keller led the way again for Havre in the win scoring 15 points to lead all scorers. Danielle Wallace pitched in with 13 points and Verploegen added six. Olson, Miller and Herron all finished with five. Karsen Murphy was the top scorer for the Red Devils, posting 14 points in the loss.

Havre will be back in action this weekend, when it will host back-to-back games inside the HHS gymnasium against Livingston Friday and Belgrade Saturday. Havre 71, Sidney 15 Sidney 3 8 3 1 - 15 Havre 23 27 10 11 - 71 Sidney: Lilli Seitz 5, Lauren Beenken 3, Madison Thiel 7.

Havre: Ryen Olson 9, Kyndall Keller 20, Kylie Walker 8, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Kadia Miller 6, Marca Herron 9, Katie Wirtzberger 5, Danielle Wallace 2, Kyley Verploegen 6. Havre 55, Glendive 38 Glendive 9 6 13 10 - 38 Havre 10 17 10 18 - 55 Glendive: Bailey Pearcy 2, Kendra Kaufman 4, Kasidi Walker 2, Thea Robson 2, Jaley Wyse 6, Karsen Murphy 14, Savannah Toms 8.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre's Kyndall Keller, right, drives the ball during Friday's game between the Blue Ponies and Sidney at the HHS gymnasium. For more photos, go to www.havredailynews.com.

Havre: Ryen Olson 5, Kyndall Keller 15, Kylie Walker 2, Kaylee Nystrom 4, Kadie Miller 5, Marca Herron 5, Danielle Wallace 13, Kyley Verploegen 6. Published 12-11-2017

Browning: ■ Continued from page C3 minutes to go at 53-48. The Indians were even within four points, 54-50, but Havre scored just enough points to hang on for the seven-point win. Danielle Wallace, who managed five points in the final stanza came up big. Ryen Olson also did her

part with a 3-pointer as Havre managed an 11-point fourth quarter. Herron led all players with a game-high 15 points. Miller, Wallace and Verploegen each added 10, while Nystrom had six. Olivia Hall was the high scorer for

Browning with 13. Dulci Skunkcap also added 11. “Kaylee Nystrom played well,” Kraske said. “Ryen Olson hit a big three late. Wallace played really well in the fourth quarter. Verploegen she did a nice job and Kadia, she had

another nice game. I am telling you, it was everybody, it took us all to do it.” The Ponies (10-0) will look to continue their winning ways this weekend, when they will travel to Livingston and Belgrade for back-to-back games Friday and

Saturday within the Central A conference. Havre 57, Browning 50 Havre 18 15 13 11 - 57 Browning 9 12 14 15 - 50 Browning - Lacie Cross 4, Kelsey Mad

Plume 2, Taylor Jordan 9, R. Jordan 9, Dulci Skunkcap 11, Tamika Gardipee 2, Olivia Hall 13. Havre - Kyndall Keller 2, Ryen Olson 4, Kaylee Nystrom 6, Kadia Miller 10, Marca Herron 15, Danielle Wallace 10, Kyley Verploegen 10. Published 1-15-2018


C8

2018 Class A

Monday, March 26, 2018

STATE BASKETBALL CHAMPS

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Pony girls make their season debut at home Blue Ponies host Sidney, Glendive to begin the year Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com During his tenure as the head coach of the Havre High girls basketball team, Dustin Kraske has never cared much about non-conference games. But with a schedule that features very few league games, six of 18 to be exact, Kraske is going to have to start changing his tune. Last season, Havre and the rest of the Eastern A girls basketball teams met in Sidney, for the Eastern A Tip-off Tournament. But after one go around, the tip-off tournament was done away with. Now, Havre will open its season this weekend, with back-toback home games against Sidney and Glendive. The Blue Ponies and the Eagles will do battle tonight at 7 in the season opener for both teams. Havre and Glendive with play Saturday at 4 p.m. Both games will be played inside the HHS gymnasium. “We haven’t done as well in non-conference games over the years,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We tend to focus more on the league games, so that is maybe something that we will need to adjust. But our focus is always been on us, on our team and what we can do to get better. So that won’t be any different.” Havre and Sidney met in the tip-off tournament a season ago with Havre winning the game easily, as the Eagles struggled to get the ball in the basket, failing to reach 30 points. However, with most of their starting line-

up gone from last year’s team, which finished near the bottom of the Eastern A, knocking off the Ponies at home, is going to be a tall order. Yet, even though the Eagles did lose some starters to graduation, they aren’t completely void of experience. Madison Thiel, a starter last season, returns along with Isakson, who didn’t start, but played key minutes off the bench. Sidney also has the benefit of having some height inside in 6-0 sophomore Cassidy Larson, along with 5-10 junior Lauren Beenken. While the Eagles finished 1-9 in the Eastern A conference last season, the only team that finished worse in the final standings was Glendive, which finished the conference season with a mark of 1-9. But, after winning just three of 17 games during the 2016-17 regular season, the Red Devils made a spectacular run in the divisional tournament and even upset higher-seeded Billings Central in the process. Glendive failed to make it to state, coming up just one win shy, but when the week was over, the Red Devils matched their regular-season win total with three. Now, after falling just short of the state tournament, the Red Devils have sight their sights on reaching the eightteam state tournament that will be played in Great Falls March 1-3. “It’s what they set as their goal and what has motivated them over the past year,” Glendive head coach Kayla Rivas said to the Glendive Ranger Review. “They want to make it to state and finish in the top three in their conference.” Glendive will have to deal with the loss of three starters in order to achieve its goal, but the Red Devils do return a host of experienced players such as Jaley Wyse, Thea Robson, Kendra Kaufman, Bailey Pearcy,

Karsen Murphy and Savannah Toms. Glendive may boast plenty of experience, but so do the Ponies, who boast All-State sophomore Kyndall Keller, who averaged 14 points and six rebounds for HHS a season ago. Joining her in the backcourt will be seniors Kaylee Nystrom and Marca Herron, who have each played significant minutes for Havre the past two seasons. Another key contributor back for the Ponies will be Danielle Wallace inside, who led the team in rebounding in 2016-17. Other players that should see plenty of minutes for Havre during the opening weekend of play are senior Ryen Olson, junior Kyley Verploegen, sophomores Katie Wirtzberger and Cadia Miller, as well as freshman Kylie Walker. “It’s nice to be able to play at home to start the season,” Kraske said. “Last year, we had to go to Sidney, but it was nice to be able to see some of the other teams in the Eastern A, because you could at least see all the teams play. But we are just excited to go play. The kids have been working really hard. We have been practicing great and we are ready to get out there and play somebody else.” Havre will take on Sidney tonight at 7, followed by a matchup Saturday against Glendive. Tip-off for that game will be at approximately 4 p.m. Both games will be played inside the HHS gymnasium. The Ponies are also home next weekend to host Belgrade and Livingston. Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre senior Kaylee Nystrom and the Blue Pony girls basketball team starts a brand new season with a pair of home games this weekend. The Blue Ponies host Sidney tonight, followed by a game with the Glendive Red Devils on Saturday afternoon inside the Havre High gymnasium. Published 12-8-2017

2017-18 Havre High Basketball

Pony Girls Ready to Stampede Talented Havre High girls should be one of Class A's elite Chris Peterson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com Over the last decade, the Havre High girls basketball team has won as consistently as just about any team in Class A and with another talented team in tow for head coach Dustin Kraske, that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. The Blue Ponies have made the Class A state tournament 10 times in the last 11 years and have qualified in each of the past six seasons. Havre even won its second Class A state championship back in 2014. However, even though Havre has been among the elite teams in Class A for years, the Ponies aren’t satisfied. In fact, far from it. And with a ton of returning experience back for the 201718 season, along with All-State sophomore Kyndall Keller, HHS has its eyes on another state tourney run. “I’m not disappointed that we haven’t won another state championship because it’s so hard to do,” Kraske said. “You have to get a little luck. Last year, I did think we underachieved a little bit. I thought that was a Saturday-night-at-state team and we didn’t quite make it. I thought we were good enough to be a Saturday-night team at state the last couple of years, it just hasn’t worked out that way. But our goal and our focus, is getting this team to play up to its capability, whatever that is. We want to be the best team that we can be come late February and early March. That goal never changes.” While Havre will be without some key pieces from last year’s team, such as two-time All-State performer Naomi Terry, Ceyara Plante, Kristen Nash and Rayan VandenBos, with Keller back on the fold, along with seniors Marca Herron, Danielle Wallace, Kaylee Nystrom and Rien Olsen, the Ponies don’t lack for experience. “This is an old team,” Kraske said. “Marca has been playing since she was a freshman, Wallace has been playing since she was a sophomore. Rien played

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Kyndall Keller and the Havre High girls basketball team is primed for another big season. The Blue Ponies, of head coach Dustin Kraske, have been a staple in the Central A, and on the Class A level for years, and this season should be no different.

a lot last year and was on the bench for us and played as a sophomore. So we have a lot of kids that have been around. We have some great leadership and this is just a really good group. They all worked really hard and they are all really motivated to get better every single day.” Havre will certainly miss the nearly 17 points a game it got from Terry and the close to 10 points a night it got from Plante. But Keller, who averaged more than 14 points and six rebounds per game, is more than ready to pick up slack.

“One thing I want to see her do is be more aggressive going to the basket,” Kraske said. “That’s something she has really been working on. The other thing is that because she is going to get some extra attention from defenders, I want her to look more at what is the right thing to do with the basketball in that situation.” Beyond Keller, Marca Herron, who is committed to play for the University of Providence in Great Falls next season, is another solid scorer, while Wallace, the team’s leading re-

bounder, also provides a scoring presence inside. “Wallace can bea beast inside,” Kraske said. “She can be a dominant force inside when she wants to be and I think that she has really worked on that this offseason and trying to be more consistent.” In addition to Keller and the four seniors, Havre should also get contributions from junior Kylie Verploegen, sophomores Kadia Miller and Katie Wirtzberger, along with freshman guard Kylie Walker, who will come off the bench.

“One thing I really like about this team is the depth that we have,” Kraske said. “Just about every spot, we have a couple of really nice players. The challenge for all of them is going to be finding out what their new roles are on this new team.” Havre was a state semifinalist a season ago, but getting back to that point at the state tournament won’t be easy, especially not with lots of teams returning key players. Defending state champion Columbia Falls not only has its head coach back in Cary Finberg, but the Wildkats

also return All-State guard Dani Douglas. Columbia Falls beat Havre in the semifinals last season, before knocking off Hardin to win the state championship. Speaking of Hardin, the Bulldogs are also talented again, returning multiple starters from a team that won 22 games last season. Frenchtown, Hamilton, Dillon and Butte Central should all be tough to contend with on the Western side of the state, along with Browning, who is now part of the Northwest A and Ronan, which went 23-0 in Class B before losing two games at the state tournament. They are back in Class A and have joined the Northwest. Hardin and Havre are among the favorites in the Eastern A, but teams like Billings Central, Belgrade, Laurel, Miles City, Glendive and Lewistown should all be in contention. Sidney and Livingston also can’t be counted out. “I think that our team has done a good job of not looking too far ahead,” Kraske said. “It’s going to be tough in the Central A and the Eastern A. But we are just going to try and go out each night and get better and be the best team that we can be. We are going to control what we can control.” In terms of the schedule, Havre will open with four straight home games against Sidney and Glendive Dec. 8-9, as well Belgrade and Livingston Dec. 15-16. Havre will play on the road against Malta Dec. 19, before playing another home game Dec. 22 against Great Falls High. After a break for the holidays, the Ponies will pay a visit to Fairfield Jan. 5, before returning to the HHS gymnasium to play Lewistown Jan. 6. The Havre girls will then play Rocky Boy at home Jan. 11, before three straight road games against Browning Jan. 12, Livingston Jan. 19 and Belgrade Jan. 20. The Ponies will return home to play Fairfield Feb. 2, before the final conference road game of the season against Lewistown Feb. 3. Havre will play its home finale Feb. 9 against Browning, before concluding the regular season with consecutive road games against Rocky Boy and CMR, Feb. 10 and Feb. 13. The Eastern A Divisional Tournament will be in Billings Feb. 21-24. The Class A State Tournament will be in Great Falls March 8-10. Published 12-7-2017

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