By George Ferguson
The Havre High girls basketball team comes into Saturday night's visit to Lewistown off of a very tough loss, but some encouraging rest and a chance to regroup.
The Ponies dropped a rare Tuesday night home game to the CMR Lady Rustlers, 57-33, giving them just one game on the docket this weekend, and plenty of time to rest and collect themselves.
Havre will need to do more than just collect themselves as they face a talented Eagle team on its home floor according to veteran head coach Dennis Murphy.
"Lewistown is a very good basketball team and they are the same type of club as the team we just played (CMR)," Murphy said. "The only thing is that Lewistown has much better outside shooters and they proved that to us when they played us here."
The first meeting between the two Central A rivals took place on Dec. 21 in Havre and it wasn't pretty. The Eagles jumped all over Havre early and used relentless pressure and great three-point shooting to thrash Havre, 75-45. In that contest, the Eagles had four players in double figures and as a team, drilled seven three-pointers - including three by reserve guard Brenda Bassett.
Since that time, the Eagles have gone 4-2 and have a 9-3 record overall. They sit in third place in the Central A conference while Havre is 6-7 and tied with Anaconda in fifth place. With just five games left, each game for both teams is critical toward seeding in the ultra-competitive Central A Divisional tournament. Five teams boast .500 or better records at present time and Havre is just under that percentage heading into this pivotal matchup.
If the Ponies are to change their fortunes against a Lewistown team that has dominated them recently, Murphy said that his guard play will be where it all starts.
"Last time we played them they really pressed us hard and I think they'll bring even more pressure this time around," Murphy said. "Lately, I think we have improved at handling the press, but we still just need to be better at the point-guard position in general."
"We need better offensive production and better ball movement against Lewistown," Murphy continued. "And all those things start with our point-guard play so we are going to have to be at our best there on Saturday night."
The contest between Havre and Lewistown is scheduled to tipoff at 7:30 p.m. at the Fergus County Fieldhouse. The game can be heard locally on 610 KOJM-AM.