By George Ferguson
It's funny how things work out sometimes in the crazy world that is high school basketball. A month ago, the Havre High boys basketball team was two games under .500 and facing the possibility of a second straight sub-five hundred year.
Now, the Ponies are one win away from winning the Central A Conference regular season championship as they prepare to face the Browning Indians tonight at the Browning High Auditorium.
If the Ponies defeat the Indians (10-6), they will earn the regular season championship outright as well as garner the top seed at next weekend's Central A Divisional tournament in Belgrade. If the Ponies fall in Browning, the worst they can finish is third place and that would depend on the outcome of Saturday night's game between the Indians and Lewistown.
"The conference championship is a goal that we have recently set for ourselves," said Havre High head coach Mark West. "But more importantly we would love to have the top seed at the divisional tournament, because we would have a real advantage on that side of the bracket."
If the Ponies (9-8) are to earn the league's top honors, they will have to knock off a battle-tested Indian team that will be looking forward to welcoming Havre to its home. Three weeks ago, the Ponies knocked off the then third-ranked Indians, 59-56, in Havre. It was part of a four-game winning streak that propelled the Ponies to the top of the Central A heap before their 52-point loss in Great Falls last Friday. The loss to the Bison is one that West hopes his young team has gotten past.
"I think as this week has gone on the kids have started feeling better," West said. "We aren't worried about Great Falls. I think the kids are focused on what is in front of them."
West said that Browning's home court advantage will also play a big part in tonight's contest.
"They (Browning) and their fans will be fired up to get us in their gym," West said. "But I think it will be a good situation. I am expecting a pressure packed tournament type atmosphere and that will be good for us going into the divisional tournament.
"I think the most important thing is that the kids play well," West added. "We want to win this game, but the kids need to play well for themselves and their level of confidence has to be high because the post season is here."