Havre Daily News
The Havre High girls basketball team will look to extend its current wining streak to eight games as the Ponies get ready to face a pair of tough nonconference opponents this weekend.
It will be an interesting weekend for the Ponies. First, they'll be out for a season sweep as they travel to Cut Bank tonight to battle the Class B Cut Bank Wolves. When the two teams met on Jan. 6 at the HHS gymnasium, the Ponies dominated Cut Bank on the way to an impressive 59-39 victory.
However, things may be different this time around, or at the very least more challenging, as Havre will have to play on the road against a team that is hungry for a victory after getting embarrassed in the first meeting.
“They are a good team and I know that we are not 20 points better than them,” HHS head coach Jason Wirt said. “They gave us some problems down low in the post as well as in terms of rebounding the ball. They have the advantage inside, but we are a lot better on the perimeter and that's where the matchup favors us.”
In the first contest the Ponies caused Cut Bank problems with their depth at all positions. Havre had five players who scored at least eight points on the evening.
Havre is led, of course, by the all-around solid play of Steph Flatau, who scored eight points in the prior meeting versus the Wolves. Flatau leads the Ponies in both scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (12.7 rpg).
Havre will also rely on senior Alexa Lipp and her 10.8 points per game to provide some clutch outside shooting. Lipp has hit 21 3-point shots this year, connecting on over 39 percent of her shots from beyond the arc.
“All season long everyone has stepped up and played well. It has not just been one or two girls,” Wirt said. “We have got really solid play from the kids off the bench as well, and all the kids have done a pretty good job.”
In addition to the Wolves being out for revenge, it can't be overlooked that Havre is likely to have a target on its back as a Class A school going on the road against a Class B school.
“It is a big game for them,” Wirt said. “It's kind of like when we play the Great Falls schools. It is a measuring stick game for them and it provides them with a chance to see where they stand and figure out where they are at.”
Saturday the Ponies will have a measuring stick game of their own as they play host to their Class AA rival, the Great Falls High Bison. Havre will be looking for payback after a 20-point defeat the first time the two schools met.
The Bison (8-2) are Class AA's No. 3-ranked team.
A win would signal the metamorphosis that the Ponies have undergone from a fairly young and inexperienced team to a team that now knows how to win big games.
The Ponies will have to slow down Sam Schermele and Gina Schermele, who combined to score 28 points in the first meeting. The Ponies will also have to find an answer for Kirilynn Winkler, who notched 14 points in the Bison win earlier in the year.
However, this is a different Pony team, and it is on a winning streak that includes a road victory over Lewistown and a home win over one of Class B's top teams, the Malta M-Ettes. “We still have a ways to go before we start to peak,” Wirt said. “We have a lot of areas that we need to improve in.”
He added, “We have to keep working hard to get better because, last time I checked, divisionals are not won in January. This weekend should be a good challenge for us.”
The Ponies play at Cut Bank tonight at 7:30 and play host to Great Falls High at 4:30 on Saturday at the HHS gymnasium.