The Havre High girls basketball team has spent the majority of this season on the road, but after a Monday game in Havre, and two more on the schedule this weekend, the Blue Ponies have a shot at extending their lead in the Central A.
The league leading Ponies sit at the top of the Central A with a 3-0 league record and 5-4 record overall.
Tonight the Ponies will
host the second-place Belgrade Panthers (5-4,2-1) at 5. And Saturday, the Ponies will host the last-place Livingston Rangers (2-6, 0-3) at 2 p.m. Both games will be played at the Havre High gymnasium.
“We are excited to be playing at home this weekend,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We know they are going to be difficult games. Belgrade is a nice team, and we have to play well. And I know Livingston has had their share of ups and downs, but we are not overlooking anybody. We need to be ready to play both days. We had a game Monday, we had three very good practices, and our kids are ready and excited, it is going to be fun.”
Earlier in the season the Ponies beat both conference rivals on the road. HHS defeated the Panthers 58-46 and defeated the Rangers 64-42. This time, after a handful of minimal changes, the Ponies should earn two more wins and extend their conference lead.
Turnovers were a killer against the Panthers, as the Ponies had nearly 20 just in the first half. HHS needs to take care of the ball much, much better tonight, but it should be an easier task as the Ponies have grown a lot, and have handled the pressure much better as the season has progressed. The Belgrade defense is solid, and loves to run a full court press, but if the Ponies can manage to keep the ball, they should earn another win.
And against the Rangers, a poor shooting night kept the score closer than it may have been if the Ponies could have found a groove. Kraske said they just never settled down, and just couldn’t knock down the open looks. If they can get into rhythm on Saturday, it could very well turn into a lopsided victory for the Ponies.
“I think we need to continue to develop good offensive rhythm through patience,” Kraske said. “By playing and by working together. It seems like every week we get a little better, and that is great. They are doing a nice job of figuring each other out and complimenting each other, so it is nice to see that development.”
The Blue Pony offense is consistently led by Brandy Lambourne and Peyton Filius, especially with their outside shooting. But Tori Mazurkiewicz and Morgan Mazurkiewicz also add to that outside barrage, while Neya Bischoff continues to play well inside and with Haley Ohm adding a spark off the bench. Add the penetration ability from Lacey Waid into the mix, and the Ponies can beat a team from anywhere on the floor.
Defensively, the game plan is the same as before, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
The HHS defense has been solid all season long, and there is no secret to the success. Playing very physical, the Ponies half court defense is amongst the best in the state. They are active in the passing lanes, have fast feet, and make it tough to score from any position. The Ponies don’t give up any uncontested shots if they can help it, and if the Ponies can shut down the panthers’ and Rangers’ top scorers, the Ponies should cruise to a couple of wins.
Belgrade’s Dylan Fowler will be on the HHS radar with her 13 points per game, while Megan Shoenen does most of the damage for Livingston with more than 10 points per game.
“We aren’t going to do anything out of the ordinary,” Kraske said. “We are a nice, solid half-court team that is going to make you earn every point five-on-five.”
HHS will host Belgrade tonight at 5, and Livingston Saturday at 2 p.m. During tonight's games at HHS, the annual Jim Elliot Award will be presented. The Ponies will also welcome in Browning Monday night.