Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a quick 2-0 start for the Havre High boys basketball team. But with winter break interrupting any gaining momentum, the Blue Ponies are eager and ready to get back on the floor. Tonight the undefeated Central A Ponies suit up to take on the top-ranked Eastern AA CMR Rustlers in their first home game of the season. Tonight’s matchup tips off at 7 On Saturday, HHS will travel to take on the AA Great Falls High Bison at 4:30 p.m. “We have a tough weekend ahead of us with two good teams.” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “But our kids are excited to get back on the floor and are excited to play. They aren’t satisfied with just those couple of wins, they are still hungry and still getting after it in each practice. We will see where we’re at against two tough teams.” In their long-awaited home opener, the Ponies are going to find themselves up against the most talent they have seen thus far in the young season. The Rustlers are a big team and aren’t afraid to be physical on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Leading the key players is returning junior in Josh Huestis, a 6-7 center who averaged 12.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game a year ago. “They are a very good team, and we need to do things fundamentally sound.” Smith said. “We know that they are going to come in here and be very physical. They can afford to be a little bit more aggressive with Huestis in the middle.” And if it wasn’t tough enough having to plan for CMR, the Ponies are also going to have their hands full with the Bison in Great Falls. It is a much younger and inexperienced Bison team compared to past years, but in many ways they are a lot like the Rustlers. Both teams are very big and strong, and like to apply heavy defensive pressure. “They are going to put a competitive team on the floor.” Smith said. “You can’t think of them like that, they are a good AA school that has had a good program. It's going to be another tough game.” The Bison have two key returning players who can quickly change the outcome of the game. Andrew Heavy Runner, a 6-0 senior is joined by his brother, 6-3 junior Austin Heavy Runner who led GFH in scoring with 9.3 points per game a year ago. To be successful in both games this weekend, the Ponies are going to have to properly execute the fundamentals. They need to take care of the ball, keep mistakes to a minimum and keep from being dominated on the boards. With players like Huestis having a dominating presence in the middle, the Ponies need to play aggressive and get a body him, not giving him open looks. “We have to go out and just compete.” Smith said. “If anything, it's going to make us a better basketball team having to play teams of their caliber. They are both very good teams.” After pausing competition for winter break, the Ponies now look to take their season to 4-0 against two talented AA teams. Tonight at the Havre High gymnasium the Ponies face the Rustlers at 7 and Saturday they face the Bison in Great Falls at 4:30 p.m.