By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
It has been a very long, difficult season for the Chinook High School boys basketball team. Given thee Beeters' struggles this season, it might make tonight's 21-mile trek down Highway 2 seem a just a little longer.
But as the Havre Blue Ponies prepare to host the Beeters tonight at 7:30 p.m., HHS head coach Mark West is not taking Chinook lightly.
"This is a rivalry game and it is a little bit different no matter what your record is," West said. "Chinook has had a very difficult season, but we expect them to come in here and play us very tough."
The Beeters enter tonight's game with a 1-13 record on the season. They are coming off of a three-game stretch last weekend where they were dismantled by Harlem on Thursday and Cut Bank on Friday.
In both of those contests, Chinook's lack of offensive production proved costly during critical stretches of each game. Sandwiched in between those two games was a heartbreaking two-point defeat at the hands of Malta.
Things won't get any easier for Chinook when they step into the Havre High gymnasium tonight.
Havre has already routed the Beeters 97-56 in Chinook back on Dec. 11. And the Ponies (9-5) appear to be picking up steam as they head towards postseason. Havre suffered a difficult defeat at home last Friday to Class AA CMR, but then blitzed the Lewistown Eagles on Saturday night.
"I think that our offense is really starting to click," West said. "We have played very well as a team for two-straight games now and that is something that needs to continue.
"Hopefully we can stay on track against Chinook," West added.
Tonight's affair is the start of a tough three-game stretch for the Ponies where they need wins to keep their chances of winning the Central A regular season title alive.
The Ponies are trailing Belgrade by just two points in the "Kount" system standings, but the Panthers have a much easier schedule remaining.
West believes that tonight's matchup is very important to his team, but that it also offers some incentive to Chinook as well.
"We need to keep winning in order to have a chance to catch Belgrade," West said. "We would love to have to opportunity to win the league title two years in a row. And right now every game we play has consequences on our post season.
"That is also why this game is important to Chinook," West added. "Even though they have been struggling, their season is not over. They have their district tournament coming up and I am sure that they are looking to get on track and get ready for that. This game should be pretty interesting."
Tonight's matchup between the Blue Ponies and Beeters is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium. The game can be heard locally on 610 KOJM-AM