GREAT FALLS — In a finish fit for a state championship, the Havre girls basketball team got payback from a loss a week earlier.
The Blue Ponies defeated rival Billings Central 64-60 in double overtime in a wild, frantic State A championship game at Four Seasons Arena on Saturday. It was Havre's third title in the last four years and fourth since 2013-14. All four championships were won at the Four Seasons Arena.
"It's because it's a barn and we got a kid by the name of Waid on our team," Havre head coach Dustin Kraske said. "And we've had a kid by the name of Waid on all of our teams that played here."
He's talking about senior Loy Waid, who finished with 10 points.
"We love this barn. It's wonderful," Kraske continued.
Photos: State A basketball championships
The teams split the season series, then Central beat Havre in the Eastern A championship in a 44-43 nail-biter.
This time around, the Ponies started slow, managing just four first-quarter points and trailing by as many as 10 in the first half. Central struggled in a third quarter marred by turnovers and missed shots. Meanwhile, Havre went on a tear led by sophomore Yelena Miller, who finished with 27 points. The Ponies took their first lead of the game at 30-29 with a minute left in the period.
"We just kept on pushing and Kraske kept on telling us to work hard, and we'd get it if we kept on pushing," Miller said.
In the fourth, the teams traded blows into the final minute. Havre led 48-46 with under a minute to go, but the Ponies were called for a 10-second back-court violation. Molly Molvig tied the game for Central on the ensuing possession, and Kylie Walker's game-winning attempt missed everything for Havre, sending the game to OT.
Mya Hansen had all five of Central's points in the first extra frame, while the Ponies succeeded from the free throw line. Hansen had a chance to win the game in OT, but her 3-point attempt fell short, leading to a second OT.
In the second overtime, Sadie Filius was clutch for the Ponies, including a second-effort layup that gave them late momentum. Filius finished with 18 points.
Hansen was sensational for the Rams, scoring 35 points on 50% shooting. She was the only Central player in double figures, while also adding nine rebounds.
Central's second-place finish comes after being named a co-champion during 2019-2020's canceled tournament.