HAVRE – All season long, Havre girls basketball coach Dustin Kraske scoffed at the fact that his team was still undefeated, hinting that the journey wasn’t over yet. It is now, after the Havre Blue Ponies defeated the Hardin Bulldogs 42-35 in the Class A state championship, finishing a perfect 24-0 on the season. So where does this team rank in school history coach?
“Near the top. Near the top, I’d say,” said Kraske. “We love Havre High. We’ve had some good history there, girls basketball in particular. We’ve been good for a long time. What is it, early ’90s until now? That’s a long time.”
“We get to take home a state trophy, we made school history and we did something that a lot of teams can’t do,” said Havre senior Marca Herron. “We’re a team and we were together while doing it.”
Trailing Hardin by one at halftime, Havre fought back led by the senior leadership of Herron and Kaylee Nystrom. The Blue Ponies left it all out on the floor in that second half, capping off an unbelievable season in style.
“Hardin is really athletic. They came out with more energy than we had,” said Nystrom. “Kraske said that we needed to get up to their level they came out with. (They had) a chip on their shoulder, they came out really fast.”
“After four years together, we’ve been a pain to each other, but we love each other and we got it done. That’s all we needed to do,” said Herron.
“We’re really close and our seniors do a great job of leading our team and helping us out through all the ups and downs and it’s just been a great ride,” said sophomore Kyndall Keller.
It all came together this year for Havre — the school’s second girls state title in the past five years and the second title for Kraske, one of the best coaches in the state of Montana.
“What I appreciate about them is that they let us coach them, and we coach them hard. They take it and it’s nothing personal, we’re trying to get better for the Ponies,” said Kraske. “I think that’s the message for our guys and they bought in to it. Not that they haven’t bought into it in the past because we have. But the highest level that this team could perform was a state championship and we kind of knew that. They performed at that level, very impressive.”
The future also looks bright for the Blue Ponies — Keller and Kadia Miller, two high-profile sophomores, will both be back next year.