Havre Daily News
In sports, confidence and momentum are fragile. One minute you've got it; the next minute it's gone.
Right now the Havre High girls basketball team is riding a big wave of both, and they are determined not to let either one get away.
After playing four out of their first five conference games on the road, the Ponies (4-1 conference, 6-4 overall) will host both Livingston (2-3 conference, 6-4 overall) and Belgrade (2-3 conference, 5-4 overall) in a pair of important Central A Conference games.
Havre faces Livingston tonight at 7 and Belgrade on Saturday at 5 p.m.
“Each game should be a battle and it will be a good test for us,” HHS head coach Jason Wirt said. “If we can get a sweep, it would be really big toward where we stand in the conference. So it would be nice if we could get both games.”
Havre is in good position in part because of solid play on the road. The Ponies have posted a 4-0 record on the road in conference play and now have a big advantage on the rest of the league as the Ponies move on to the easier part of the schedule. It includes four straight conference games at home.
If the Ponies hold serve at home, they very well could be 8-1 in conference play heading into their regular-season finale against the unbeaten Browning Indians.
However, that is still a ways away and if the Ponies want to be in that position, they need to take care of business this weekend first.
Tonight the Ponies will meet up with the Livingston Rangers, a team they defeated 64-50 in their first meeting. Offensively, the Rangers are a fairly balanced team, and are led by Sara Meyer, who averages 15 points per game and 12.6 rebounds a game.
The Ponies were able to somewhat contain Meyer in Livingston, as she managed just 10 points but grabbed 13 rebounds. If the Ponies are to be successful tonight, it is imperative that they keep Meyer in check.
Another player the Ponies will be focused on stopping is Brianna Ackerman. Ackerman is second on the Rangers in scoring at 12.7 points per game, and she scored a team-high 23 points the last time she faced Havre.
The Ponies will counter with Steph Flatau, who averages 12.7 points per game, and leads the conference with 13.7 rebounds per game. Havre also brings a solid backcourt that consists of Alex Lipp, who is one of the best perimeter shooters in the conference at 42 percent from beyond the arc. Keelie Solomon provides both scoring and a defensive spark for the Ponies as she averages 9.4 points and 2.7 steals per game.
“All four of our seniors have been solid all year for us,” Wirt said. “We have gotten balanced scoring from Steph, Keelie and Alexa. That's a big reason why we have had success, and that's a big part of our philosophy is being balanced. Also, Kelsey Evans is as good a point guard as there is as long as she doesn't try to do too much.”
On Saturday night, the Ponies will play host to Belgrade. When the Ponies played the Panthers earlier in the season they rolled to an easy 66-49 victory.
The Panthers are led by Jessie Greany, who leads them in scoring at 11.3 points per game. She is the only Panther averaging in double figures on the season.
The Panthers make up for their lack of scoring with solid defense. They have allowed only two teams more than 60 points all season long and have held their last five opponents under 50 points.
“They are going to get after us and pressure us,” Wirt said. “Last time, they forced us to play faster than we wanted to. We need to play in control and handle their pressure. We also have to be prepared for any adjustments we might have to make because they will probably throw some different things at us.”
If the Ponies can get a sweep this weekend it would extend their current winning streak to six games and would give them a tidal wave of momentum and confidence heading into the stretch run.
“This weekend is huge for us confidence-wise,” Wirt said.