Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the past couple of weeks both the Havre High boys and girls basketball teams have really begun to show their true potential. And tonight both Blue Pony squads gear up to face a tough Class B Conrad teams. Tonight marks senior night for the Pony boys (4-5, 7-9), and they will host the Cowboys at the Havre High gymnasium at 7. And the No.4 Pony girls (8-1, 11-5) are on the road to face the Cowgirls at 7:30 p.m. In their last meetings, both of the Central A Pony teams recorded a win. The boys defeated the Cowboys 65-62 in double overtime in Conrad, and the girls defeated the Cowgirls 50-26 in Havre. “Conrad has a very nice team.” Havre High boys head coach Andy Smith said. “They are very well coached and have some good outside shooters and post players.” In their previous meeting the Ponies led the Cowboys through the entire game. But in another game plagued by poor free-throw shooting, the Ponies allowed the Cowboys to sneak back into the game. And while the Ponies still got the win, double overtime cut things closer than what they probably should have been. “I just think that we are playing a lot better right now.” Smith said. “We have improved a lot since the last time we have played them, and I really think we are going to bring that defensive effort that’s been showing up for the last couple of weeks.” This time around the Ponies can expect a lot of the same tactics used by the Cowboys, especially their pressure defense. The Cowboys pressured the Ponies from the first whistle to the last, and it did cause some problems. And it wasn’t that the Ponies were forced into a lot of turnovers on the night, but their offense was forced to work for every pass and shot they made all night long. HHS is going to need to take care of the ball like they did the first time around. The Ponies' offense was good against the Cowboys, but this year it has been a little inconsistent, and they cant give up points on missed free throws. “We’re not the most explosive team offensively.” Smith said. “But we feel that if there is one thing we can control in the game it’s coming out and playing solid defense. The kids are starting to believe that we are a good defensive team and it makes us optimistic about anybody we play.” Getting a win at home tonight isn’t only going to be good for momentum; it’s going to be a lasting memory for the senior class. Nate Christianson, Kaden Keto, Michael Hickman, Kolt Reddies, Donald Cox, Jordan Van Voast, and And Tucker Parman will all play for the last time in the Havre High gymnasium. “I’ve really been proud of this group of kids.” Smith said. “They put in a lot of time over the summer and have worked very hard in the off-season. They have really been a great bunch of kids to coach.” The seniors have played well all year long, but walking on the floor for their last time will bring extra incentive to take care of business. The seniors have played a big role in the Ponies success and they are leading the team in most of the stats. Parman and Keto are leading the team in scoring with just over 10 points per game, while Hickman adds his nine and Christianson adds his five per game. Keto also leads the team with 10.3 rebounds per game and 41 steals and 42 blocks. Hickman leads the Ponies with 48 assists, while Van Voast leads the team with his 37 percent from three. “We have really relied on the seniors to be the leaders of the team this year.” Smith said. “The kids will really come out and play well. It’s our last game at Havre High School and I just think the kids are going to come out with a lot of enthusiasm.” The HHS girls played in their senior night last week, but coming out with high intensity can also be expected from the No. 1 team in the Central A. They dominated the Cowgirls in their last meeting, and they are looking to come out and get another big win this time. “It’s what we expect.” Havre High girls head coach Dustin Kraske said. “The time of season we are in is for us to play well, defend and just do what we do well to be successful. That’s what we are playing for now. It's time for us to play our best, and there are no nights off. That’s our expectation.” There are only two short weeks until the divisional tournament, and the Ponies are taking advantage of every chance they can to get better. Against the Cowgirls will be the perfect time to adjust some things on offense, and try some things that they might not get to try otherwise. Everything they have been doing and will do is in preparation for the postseason. “We’re trying to tweak the things we do well and improve the things we don’t do so well.” Kraske said. “We’re getting ourselves set and ready for divisionals at the end of the month.” HHS can expect the same tough zone defense the Cowgirls came out with last time. It was a zone defense the Ponies don’t run into often and it forces the Ponies to execute very well on offense if they wish to be successful. The Ponies need to shoot well, especially if the zone squeezes down on their post game. They will need to be patient and work the ball from side to side to create the open shot. And to beat the zone they will also need to hustle down the floor on offense to try and score in transition. “We are just looking to do the things that we do well.” Kraske said. “We need to defend like we have been defending and play as hard as we have been playing. We’re just looking to go play well on the road in an environment we’re not accustom to.” Both Blue Pony squads are looking for another big win over Conrad, and the fact that these aren’t conference games makes no difference. With the divisional and state tournaments two games away each well-played game, and win is going to boost momentum and carry over. The Pony boys tip off against the Cowboys at home at 7 tonight, and the Pony girls tip off against the Cowgirls on the road at 7:30 p.m.