HAVRE 53, BROWNING 29
The Havre girls rolled to a 53-29 win over Browning at the Class A tournament in Great Falls to reach their first state title game since 2014.
One night after failing to score a single point in the second quarter in a 43-39 win over Hamilton, the Blue Ponies outscored the Lady Indians 17-1 in the second period for a dominant 25-5 lead at halftime.
“We have a lot of respect for Browning, Ray (Augare) does a great job,” said Havre coach Dustin Kraske. “I like their kids. They play hard, they’re athletic they’re long. So for our kids to hold them to hold them to five points in a half, that was pretty awesome.”
Sophomore star Kyndall Keller led all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting. Marca Herron scored nine points for the Blue Ponies, while Danielle Wallace pulled in 12 rebounds.
“This whole year has been play our game and try to do what we do well and tonight was a good example of that,” Kraske said. “I think our kids rebounded well Danielle had 12 boards. Obviously Kyndall put on a bit of a show offensively and Marca ran the point well. We preach team, and these guys have bought into it and that’s I think the biggest difference between this squad and other teams that we have.”
Browning was held to just 10-percent shooting in the first half on 2-of-20 from the field to fall behind big early. Dulci Skunkcap led the Lady Indians with 11 points. No other Browning player scored more than four points. Tamika Guardipee was 0-for-7 from the field but blocked six shots and pulled in seven rebounds.
It’s the first title game for Havre since they won it all in 2014. The Blue Ponies, who improved their record to 23-0, will face the winner of Hardin and Butte Central in the State A championship Saturday at 8 p.m.
“We have to worry about the next game and don’t think about the last game and learn from our mistakes and move on,” Keller said. “We’re just so close, we’re so tight. We’re like a family. We do everything together and it shows.”
HARDIN 48, BUTTE CENTRAL 40
Aiyanna Ereaux scored a game high 15 points and Hardin girls advanced to the Class A state championship with a 48-40 semifinal win over Butte Central.
The win sets up a rematch of the Eastern A divisional title game with Havre in the State A final. Hardin and Central played to an 11-11 tie after the first quarter. The Maroons outscored the Bulldogs 12-7 in the second quarter to lead Hardin 23-18 at halftime.
“We just weren’t playing aggressive and taking to the basket like we normally do,” said Hardin coach Cindy Farmer about the first half. “So I told them they worked over a year for this, from summer until now. You can’t let it get away from you right now and we got back to our identity in the second half.”
Indeed they did. Hardin went on a 16-1 run in the second half, outscoring Central 14-3 in the third and building a nine point lead in the fourth quarter.
Karissa DuShane had a great all-around game for Hardin with 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals to join Ereaux in double figures. Marie Five added eight points and nine reboubnds.
Tricia Joyce led Butte Central in scoring with 16 points while Khloie Thatcher had a complete game with 13 points, six rebound and five assists.
Havre and Hardin will meet for a title for the second time in two weeks. The Blue Ponies beat the Bulldogs in the Eastern A divisional final last month, 42-34. Farmer says her team is ready for round two.
“They have some very powerful players,” Farmer said of Havre. “We know we can’t stop them but we can certainly try to contain them and limit their possessions.”
Saturday’s championship game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls. Butte Central will face Hamilton in loser-out action at 11 a.m.