By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High boys basketball team is playing good basketball right now. Even Blue Pony head coach Mark West admitted his team is starting to peak at the right time.
But as the Ponies prepare to host Browning tonight, he isn't ready to say they are playing great. And he is hoping that his team will guard against falling back into some of the woes that have plagued them earlier in the season.
"We're close to being a really good basketball team, and we're close to being where I thought we would be at this point," West said. "We have put together three really complete games this last week both offensively and defensively."
"Hopefully, we can continue to play well," West added. "Because we can't afford a letdown with the schedule that we have left."
Indeed, the Ponies (10-5) have three very difficult games to end the season and it starts tonight with Browning (8-6).
Havre will also host Malta on Saturday night before finishing it's regular season at home next week against the Great Falls High Bison.
Earlier this month Havre edged the Indians, 65-59, in Browning. But the Ponies struggled in several games since that time, especially offensively.
While West is optimistic about how his team has turned around some of its troubles, he also knows that Browning has gotten much better since the last time the two teams hooked up.
"Browning has had a couple of very good wins recently," West said. "They are playing good basketball again. I expect that they will give us a very tough time."
While the Ponies' win in Browning looked solid on paper, West admitted he has several concerns heading into tonight's contest.
"They are very good at harassing us with their pressure defense," West said. "Browning really lives and dies with its pressure. If we allow them to pressure us, they will be in good shape. So what we will try to do is break their press early and hopefully get some easy baskets. If we can take that away from them, then they have a few more problems in the half court."
"Our other main concerns will be rebounding and trying to contain Karl Ingraham," West continued. "Ingraham is scoring a lot of points for them right now and he could give us some trouble if we don't defend him well."
Saturday night, the Ponies will take to the road for the final time in the regular season. The Mustangs (8-6) were drubbed in Havre 61-41 in early January, but they have managed to keep pace with rival Harlem in the District 2B standings.
With first place on the line in the Central A "Kount" system standings, West believes that the road trip to Malta is almost a must-win game. Havre is currently trailing Belgrade by four points for the lead in the Central A standings.
"We need to win out and we need Belgrade to lose at least one game," West said. "A road win against a winning team in Malta would be very big for us right now.
"But Malta is always a tough place to play," West added. "It may appear that they (Malta) are a little down this season, but I think they will be more prepared for us this time. Last game they didn't handle our press well at all, and I expect that this time they will be ready for it. I'm sure it will be a very good ballgame."
Tonight's Central A tilt between Havre and Browning will tip off at 7:30 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium. Saturday's game in Malta is also scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and it can be heard on 610 KOJM-AM.