Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The season is winding down for the Havre High basketball teams and this weekend both the HHS boys and girls teams will face final tune-ups before the Central A Divisional tournament in Butte next weekend. The HHS girls will have little to play for on Friday night when the Ponies travel to Browning to take on the fourthplace Indians. The Ponies (13-4 overall, 8-1 conference) have already locked up the Central A regular season title and top overall seed in the divisional tournament. But by the time the Ponies take the floor against Browning on Friday, it will be the first time in eight days that they have played, so they will be looking to shake off the rust and end their season on a high note. “I think that any time you put on that Havre uniform, it’s important,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We might not have anything on the line, but we are playing a team we might play against in the tournament and we are going to go out and compete.” HHS defeated Browning 54-35 in the first meeting of the season back on Jan. 12. However, the Indians have played much better basketball as of late, winning five of their last seven games, including victories against Lewistown and Belgrade. Browning (8-8 overall, 3-5 conference) will be led by the dynamic scoring duo of Tahni Edmo and Brittney Bird Rattler. Edmo is a great scorer and solid rebounder, averaging over 15 points and nine rebounds a game for Browning, while Bird Rattler adds 13 points a game. “I know that the Edmo girl is a very solid player,” Kraske said. “She does a lot of things for them. Bird Rattler is also a very good player and if you let her shoot the ball and get into a rhythm, she can hit a lot of shots.” Havre is a much more balanced team offensively, with only one player averaging in double figures. Katie Mariani is the team’s leading scorer with an average of just over 13 points a game. Havre’s other leading scorers are Tricia Samson and Sarah Blessum, who both average just over eight points a game. The Havre High boys will have a much larger task in front of them on Saturday when the Ponies face off against the No. 2 Browning Indians in Browning. “I think that it is going to be a good challenge for us,” HHS head coach John Barnhorst said. “You don’t always get to play an unbeaten team and the top team in your conference, so it’s a good opportunity for our team to gain some momentum before we go into divisionals.” The No. 2 Indians (17-0 overall, 9-0 conference) will be looking for a season sweep of the Ponies after a 59-54 victory in the first meeting between the two teams back on Jan. 11 in Havre. Browning boasts one of the top post players in the conference in junior forward DJ Fish who averages 12 points per game to go along with seven rebounds a game. The Indians’ top scoring threat on the perimeter is Jordan LongTimeSleep who averages just under 12 points per game and is second on the team in both steals and assists. “They are a very good team,” Barnhorst said. “They are just so athletic and it is hard to prepare for them. You can tell your team about how quick they are, but it’s hard for them to realized it until they see it in person. “I think they are also a pretty well coached team,” he added. “They show better discipline than they have in the past and they don’t make many bad decisions.” The Ponies (7-10 overall, 5-4 conference) have been on a recent hot streak, especially in conference play. HHS has been victorious in their last four Central A games. Havre has already locked up third place in the Central A, but it can get a big boost of momentum and confidence with an upset victory in Browning. If the Ponies are going to have a chance on Saturday, they will need stellar play from leading scorer Chris Brandt who leads the team with 13 points a game, as well as Jeremiah Moog, who is probably the Ponies most complete player, averaging eight points and six boards a game. Havre will also need solid play from forward Mike Sharp, who is averaging seven points and six rebounds per game. The Ponies will rely heavily on bench scoring from Tony Filler and Michael Hickman. “It would be huge if we could go down there and get a win,” Barnhorst said. “But we just want to go out and play good basketball. We just want to have a good taste in our mouth before we head into divisionals.” The HHS girls game against Browning will tip off in Browning at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night. The HHS boys will travel to Browning on Saturday night with the game kicking off at 5 p.m.