By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ firstname.lastname@example.org
As the Havre High girls basketball team prepares to face a pair of District 2B foes this weekend at home, veteran head coach Dennis Murphy is hoping that his team will bounce back from a very tough loss against the Great Falls High Bison on Dec. 8.
Also, Murphy is hoping his team will continue to make strides towards improving for the post season.
The Ponies will kick off the homestand tonight when they host a struggling Harlem team. HHS will square off against the Glasgow Scotties on Saturday night.
"We are playing very good basketball right now," Murphy said. "I thought the we played very good against Great Falls High and we don't have anything to hang our heads about from that game.
"Now we need to focus on Harlem and Glasgow and we also need to focus on continuing to get better as a basketball team," Murphy added.
Havre, 6-3 overall, is in third place in the Central A conference standings. The Ponies will host a 1-9 Harlem team, whom they beat 86-45 last month in Harlem.
The Wildcats' only win this season came two weeks ago when they defeated District 9C-foe Rocky Boy in Harlem. Despite the Wildcats' struggles, Murphy knows that his team needs to be prepared for the Wildcat's three-point attack, which is led by leading scorers Alicia Shields, Kayla Horn and Olivia Main.
"Harlem is having a pretty rough season," Murphy said. "But we need to be prepared to defend them because the last time we played them they made a lot of threes on us. That is an area we need to be better in because right now we are at the bottom of our league in defense."
Saturday night, Havre will host Glasgow and it will be the first meeting between the two schools this season.
The Scotties (3-6) have also had their troubles this season, especially finding a scoring replacement for the graduated Brittany Archambault. Glasgow does get offensive production from Tiffany Waters and Alexa Etchart. The Scotties' size is also a cause for concern, according to Murphy.
"They definitely have us outsized and that will be a problem," Murphy said. "And (Tiffany) Waters is a very strong player and a good shooter so we have to play good defense on her.
"This will be a good test for us because Glasgow will be very well-prepared and very excited to play us in our gym," Murphy added. "We need to match that intensity and be ready to play on Saturday night."
Despite the fact that the Ponies have been outsized by almost every team they have played this season, they surprisingly possess two of the top three rebounders in the Central A conference. Sophomore Steph Flatau is averaging a team-high 9.3 rebounds per game to go with the 12.3 points per game. The Central's A's top scorer is senior Jolene Fuzesy at 27 points per game She also is chipping in with nine boards a game. Junior Amy McLain is leading the conference in assists.
"Offensively, we have been playing really well all season and we are making a lot of free throws," Murphy said. "Hopefully that will continue this weekend. But we need to continue to get better on defense because sooner or later that will come back to haunt us if we don't improve."
Tonight's game between Havre and Harlem will tip off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's contest between Havre and Glasgow will also get under way at 7:30 p.m.