Both the Havre High boys and girls basketball teams will take on their final non-conference opponents of the season this weekend. And with the Central A basketball tournament just around the corner, both Blue Pony squads are looking to keep improving, as well as hopefully grab another win.
Tonight the HHS girls (6-1/9-7) will host the Class B Conrad Cowgirls at the Havre High gymnasium at 7. And the HHS boys (2-5/4-12) will also face the Class B Cowboys tonight, but will do so on the road in Conrad at 7:30.
The Havre High girls suffered a tough 38-35 loss to the Cowgirls earlier in the season, but are looking for some redemption. HHS didn’t play very well and know they let a win slip away from their grasps. Head coach Dustin Kraske is looking for his girls to play much better this time around.
“Defensively,” Kraske said. “We have to play better, we have to help each other and talk. Offensively, we have to look to score as well as mix in some patience. But we have been trying to get better. And Conrad did a nice job against us down there, and we know we didn’t play as well as we were capable of playing. The kids will be ready to go and we are looking forward to the game.”
Conrad has proven to house some talent. The Cowgirls have played teams very physical this season. They have executed their half court defense very well, and should look to trap the Ponies’ ball handlers. The Ponies are going to have to screen well, and often, as well as look to attack the basket if they continue
to struggle shooting the ball. In their last meeting, the Cowgirsl held the Ponies to five points in the second quarter and just one point in the third.
“I would hope our kids would never doubt themselves shooting the basketball,” Kraske said. “But I think we might have that just a little bit in our program right now. We have to dump that. If you are open, and your feet are set, then you shoot the ball.”
Peyton Filius has stepped up her scoring and Brandy Lambourne will look to get back on track. They should both be able to take advantage of the Conrad defense tonight. The HHS defense held the Cowgirls to just 38 points last time around, and those numbers would be a success again. Morgan VanDyke is the biggest Conrad threat, but if the Ponies can limit her touches, as well get their offense back on track, the Ponies should be able to emerge victorious.
In boys action, the Ponies will also look to avenge an earlier loss to Conrad.
But the Ponies situation was a little different, as they didn’t play poorly, they simply could get shots to fall. Suffering the four-point loss last month in Havre, HHS may have had one of their poorest shooting nights of the season. The Ponies were 4-of-8 from the field in the third quarter, but just 5-for-15 from the field in the fourth quarter. They shot just 39 percent from the field in the second half of that game.
“Hopefully, we can get some steam built up for our Browning game next week,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “We need to look to get more points in the paint. And we need to be getting to the free-throw-line about 15 to 20 times. But I think we can (get a win) this time around.”
Conrad played a zone defense, giving the Ponies the opportunity to shoot the ball. But if the shots don’t fall, they need to do just what coach Leeds said, penetrate, get to the basket, or get to the line. Last time around the Cowboys got to the line 28 times, compared the Ponies seven. Kade Rismon could have a solid game inside, as could Jase Kato with his increased minutes. Dane Warp has also shown he can get to the hole if his shot isn’t there.
On defense, the Ponies will also look to give the Cowboys a taste of their own medicine. Conrad scored the majority of their points from the paint, scoring on backdoor cuts and with easy layups. If the Ponies’ zone defense can force the Cowboys to shoot the ball, they could limit the production of the Austin Zomer, Shane Larson, and Devin Vanderbos.
The HHS girls will host Conrad at 7 at the Havre High gymnasium, while the HHS boys will face the Cowboys in Conrad. Tonight’s home game is senior night for the Blue Ponies, where HHS senior forward Neya Bischoff will be honored before the game.