The Havre High girls basketball team did not have the best couple of games last week. But with two more games scheduled for this weekend, the Blue Ponies should be able to turn things back around.
Last week, the Central A Ponies lost a tough games to Great Falls High and CMR. Moving forward, the Ponies will play two more games this weekend, one conference, on non conference, as they continue to prepare for the divisional and state basketball tournaments.
Havre is 5-1 in the Central A standings and 7-7 overall. Tonight the Ponies will host the conference rival Lewistown Golden Eagles at the Havre High gymnasium at 7. And Saturday night, the Ponies will face the non-conference Shelby Coyotes in Shelby. The Ponies have already beaten both teams this season, and know they have a shot at recording two more wins the second time around. Havre defeated Lewistown 46-25 and defeated Shelby 63-17 last month.
“That is our hope, to turn things around,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “But I understand Lewistown has gotten quite a bit better, they have been playing hard down the stretch. That is expected, they always compete and we are going to have our hands full at home. But this weekend should be good for our kids, we have had a good week of practice and we are really focused on just getting more offensive rhythm, moving the ball from side to side, pushing it up the floor, and just getting after it defensively against Lewistown and Shelby both.”
And the Blue Ponies are especially focused on the Lewistown matchup because it is a conference game. Any conference game is a must-win game, especially as the Ponies attempt to reclaim their divisional title. Mikaela Olson has led the Eagles all season long, and will be an area of focus for the HHS defense. Olson has averaged just over 10 points per game this season, but was held to six by the Pony defense in their first meeting.
But the Havre High defense dominated both matchups, and could very well do the same against the two teams that have limped through this season thus far. Last time around the Ponies allowed a combined 42 points in the two games, as well as allowed double digit scoring in just two quarters. The Ponies also forced 33 turnovers by the Coyotes.
Coach Kraske said defense is going to be key this weekend. The focus is on defensive rebounds, as the Ponies know they can’t give up second and third chance opportunities. The Ponies need to be in position, get the rebound, and look to push the ball up the floor.
That is the focus in both games, but the Ponies know they need to first get past the fourth place Eagles tonight.
“Records don’t mean anything,” Kraske said. “We are playing Lewistown and our kids are taking it one game at a time. We need to play our best basketball over the next three or four weeks, and get to a good spot by the divisional tournament.”
Facing Shelby, the Ponies did whatever they wanted the first time around, on both sides of the ball. And the same defensive pressure the Ponies will use tonight, should also get the Ponies past the Coyotes on Saturday night. When playing at their best, the HHS defense can limit teams by mixing their man and zone looks, as well as bouncing between full and half court presses.
“It is a chance to get better,” Kraske said. “It doesn’t matter to our program what kind of season Shelby is having, we still respect them and we know they are coached very well and we have to be ready to play. It is an opportunity to get better, and that is our main focus.”
Offensively, the Ponies know what kind of team they are, they need shots to start falling. In both games, the Ponies will rely on the usual suspects, including Brandy Lambourne and Peyton Filius who lead the scoring from the guard position. Lacey Waid’s offensive production has really increased as the season progressed as well.
Tonight the Ponies will host Lewistown at 7 at the Havre High gymnasium, and will face Shelby on the road on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.