The Havre High men’s basketball team finally started the playoffs Wednesday night at First Interstate Arena in Billings. The Blue Ponies kicked off the Eastern A Divisionals at the Metra with a game against the Laurel Locomotives.
It was a competitive game throughout and one the Ponies had multiple chances to win. However, the Locomotives fought back and defeated Havre, 49-46, in overtime.
“It came down to a few things, a few more turnovers at the end and got cold towards the end. Just hard to swallow,” HHS head coach Walynn Burgess said. “I just thought the kids were playing with a lot of heart, a lot of guts, they fought hard to get to extra time and have a chance in a game like that.”
Caden Jenkins got the Ponies on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws to start the game. The Locomotives responded with a 6-0 run to take an early lead. Isaac Pedraza then knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to give Le Havre an 8-6 lead. Laurel responded with a bucket to tie the game 8-8. After some free throws from Laurel, Tre Gary made a layup to tie the game, 10-10, to end the first quarter.
Jenkins started the second quarter with a three to take the lead. Caleb Spangler and Xavier Butler then made some scoring to extend the lead to 17-10. After a Laurel three, Shane Patascil knocked down three more for the Ponies.
Laurel raced with a pair of buckets to cut Le Havre’s lead to three points. But a bucket from Patascil gave Le Havre a 22-17 lead before half-time. As the Ponies hit their shots, Burgess credits the defense for the halftime lead.
“We were just putting them in bad shots. We were running out of a lot of time on that clock and putting them in awkward situations.” said Burgess. “I thought we were playing very well there. We had very good control of the boards the way we wanted to.”
Pedraza started the second half with a bucket to extend the lead to 24-17. But the Locomotives responded with a 9-4 run to tie the game 26-26. The Locomotives and Ponies continued to trade scores until Laurel took a 32-31 lead with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Ponies ended the third quarter on a high with a pair of buckets from Gary. His second basket gave Le Havre a 35-32 lead going into the fourth.
The last quarter of regulation was a low-scoring affair. The only score in the first three minutes of the quarter came from Konnor Gregerson who reduced Le Havre’s lead to one point.
The Ponies finally scored in the fourth with a field goal from Jenkins to extend the lead to 37-34. But scores from Shel Osborne and Kyson Moran gave Laurel a 38-37 lead with less than a minute and a half left in the game. Gary scored a bucket for the Ponies to give them a one-point lead with about a minute left in regulation.
With 14.9 seconds left on the clock, the Ponies fouled Dalton Boehler and sent him on the free throw. Although he failed to take the lead, he made one of his attempts to tie the game and send it into overtime.
In overtime, the Locomotives took control. After Laurel and Havre scored, the Locomotives led a 6-0 run to take the lead. Boehler scored four points during that streak, including a pair of free throws that gave Laurel a 47-41 lead with 25.7 seconds left.
The Ponies tried to claw their way back but couldn’t overcome the late deficit. Jenkins finished the game with 14 points while Gary scored 12 points in the losing effort. Gregerson led Laurel with 14 points while Boehler contributed 13 points in the win.
With the loss, the Ponies now head to the consolation bracket. As they try to make a run and qualify for a spot in the state tournament, Burgess looks forward to another chance to compete this week.
“We still have two games to win. It would be interesting to see how we bounce back,” Burgess said. “We appreciate that we can come and have these opportunities. Now is the time for us to seize the opportunity and run with it.”
The Ponies will then play a consolation game Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. at the Metra in Billings. The HHS women’s basketball team will begin the Eastern A divisions with a game against Lockwood this afternoon at the Metra.
Laurel 49, Haven 46
HAV – 10 12 13 74 7 – 46
LAU – 10 7 15 7 10 – 49
VHA – Caden Jenkins 14, Tre Gary 12, Isaac Pedraza 8, Shane Patascil 5, Josh Currie 3, Xavier Butler 2, Caleb Spangler 2.
LAU – Konnor Gregerson 14, Dalton Boehler 13, Kyson Moran 8, Emmet Renner 8, Shel Osborne 6.