Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Fresh off clinching at least a share of the Central A regular season title, the Havre High girls basketball team will take a break from conference play tonight when the Ponies play host to Cut Bank at the HHS gymnasium. The Ponies (12-4 overall, 8-1 conference) come into the game on a threegame winning streak, highlighted by recent victories over Lewistown and Butte Central. On Jan. 13, the Ponies traveled to Cut Bank and demoralized the Wolves with an impressive 57-26 win. Katie Mariani had 19 points for Havre and Sarah Blessum also had 13 points as the Ponies cruised to an easy victory. Now, with just two games remaining on the schedule before the Central A divisional tournament, the Ponies will go for the season sweep of Cut Bank, in a non-conference tune up. “I feel pretty good about the way that we are playing right now,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “I would like to see us shoot the ball a little bit better and get into a little more of a rhythm offensively than we have in the past couple games, but we are playing good basketball, we just have to fine tune a couple things.” Cut Bank (6-10, 1-6 conference) is coming into tonight’s game off of backto- back losses last weekend to Browning and Choteau. Megan Galbreath, Danni Johnson and Katie Minnis will lead the Wolves into action against the Ponies tonight, and they will need to find a way to charge up a struggling offense because they will be matched up head-to-head with one of the top defensive teams in Class A basketball. Havre also boasts a balanced scoring attack with Mariani leading the way at 13. 9 points per game. After Mariani, no HHS player averages in double figures, but Tricia Samson, Hope Hedges and Blessum give the Ponies the scoring they need, as they each average around eight points per game. “If the divisional tournament was this weekend, I would feel pretty good about where were at right now,” Kraske said. “We are playing pretty well defensively and if we can just improve some things on offense I think we will be right where we want to be.” Meanwhile, it has been a season of highs and lows for the Havre High boys basketball team, but after earning victories in four of their last six games, including four straight in conference play, it appears as though the Ponies are beginning to play their best basketball at just the right time. “I think that we have finally started to get things figured out,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “We have been playing pretty well lately and I think we are playing our best basketball of the season right now.” Last weekend, the Ponies exacted some revenge against Butte Central and Lewistown, two teams that defeated them earlier in the season. Tonight in Cut Bank, Havre will look to do the same to the Class B Wolves, who defeated the Ponies 53-46 at the HHS gymnasium Jan. 13. “We have been coming back and beating teams that beat us the first time we played,” Barnhorst said. “So it would be nice to do that again on the road against a good team like Cut Bank. Cut Bank (13-3, 6-1 conference) is the reigning Class B state champion and the Wolves have won three consecutive games over the Ponies dating back to last season. HHS will have to stop Cut Bank’s balanced offensive attack which features senior guard Ben Jacobsen, who scored 11 points in the first meeting, as well as Brian Braughn, who torched the Ponies for 21 points, as well as Kade Filtburg. The Ponies will answer with leading scorer Chris Brandt, who averages just under 13 points a game, forward Jeremiah Moog, who averages over eight points a game and 3-point shooting specialist Tony Filler, who is shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc on his way to averaging 7.4 points per game for. “I really think that our kids have finally embraced our motion offense,” Barnhorst said. “They are playing really well as a team and they are starting to use their screen and read the defense. I think they are starting to realize what their roles are and they are starting to fill them better than earlier in the year. “The biggest thing for us this weekend is just to keep our momentum going,” he added. “We are playing with a lot of confidence right now and we don’t want to lose that. We want to go down to Cut Bank and win, but more importantly we just want to play well and try to keep this going.” The HHS girls will square off against Cut Bank tonight inside the HHS gymnasium at 7:30. Before the game, Havre will honor its seniors, Christina Armstrong and Lena Suek. Meanwhile, The HHS boys will take on Cut Bank in Cut Bank. The game will tip off at 7:30 p. m.