Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
A big challenge will present itself to the Havre High girls basketball team this weekend as the Blue Ponies get ready to challenge Class AA foes CMR and Great Falls High in nonconference action. The Ponies (2-1) are coming off of a big 74-35 victory over Belgrade last Friday as well as a heartbreaking 56-55 overtime loss at Livingston Saturday. Havre will start its weekend tonight in Great Falls. The Ponies will take on the CMR Rustlers (2-1) at the CMR Fieldhouse. Havre will have their hands full with the Rustlers, who swept the Ponies a year ago. “I think it will be a really good challenge for us,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We haven’t really talked a whole lot about them because we are not going to change what we do for these games. We are just going to focus on the things we do and getting better.” If the Ponies are going to find success against the Rustlers, they will have to focus their efforts on stopping 6-1 junior forward Mary Anderson. Anderson is a force inside, and she is the Rustlers’ second-leading scorer, as well as their leading rebounder. Matching up with Anderson for the Ponies will likely be senior forward Lena Suek or junior forward Steph Stremcha. Havre will also have to contend with junior guard Jordan Foster who is the Rustlers’ leading scorer at over 16 points a game. Senior Kelsey Hopkins, who is considered CMR’s most talented player, is their third leading scorer. “I know that they have Mary Anderson,” Kraske said. “From what I understand she is a pretty good player. I think she is pretty good at rebounding the ball and scoring in the post. So we are going to have to do a good job rebounding, especially on the defensive end. “I think that we are going throw some different things at them,” Kraske said. “We want to try and speed up the pace of the game and try to get some easy baskets in transition. We are also going to get after them defensively and force them into some turnovers.” On Friday night, the Blue Ponies will welcome the GFH Bison into the HHS gymnasium for their first home game of the season. Tonight’s game is Havre’s fourth game on the road to start the season. “It’s going to a lot better playing at home than traveling,” Kraske said. “It will be nice that we will have gotten almost half of our road games out of the way before Christmas. “I’m excited to play at home and I think our kids are really excited about playing at home,” he added. “It’s going to be a good deal.” The Bison’s top scorer, junior Kezia Ford will lead them into Friday night’s game. And they will also rely heavily on Megan Stubbs and Molly Quinn. “I know that they are going to come out and play a lot of match-up zone,” Kraske said. “Coach (Chris) Lander has been doing that for quite a while and I don’t see why they would change that.” Havre will be sparked by their dynamic backcourt duo of Katie Mariani and Tricia Samson. Mariani is the teams’ leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, and Samson is not far behind, averaging 11.7 points per game. Other key players for Havre will be Hope Hedges, who averages nine points, six steals and three assists per game. Stremcha has also been a key player so far this season, averaging 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. “I think it’s going to be interesting,” Kraske said. “We are going to play two tough teams and I think we understand that. So we’re just going to go out there and compete as hard as we can.” Havre will play CMR tonight in Great Falls at 7:30 and the Ponies will host the Bison Friday night at 7:30 p.m.