With the holiday break upon us, Havre fans will get their first look at the Havre High girls basketball team tonight. And they’ll see the Blue Ponies against one of the toughest opponents they’ll go up against all year.
Fresh off a season-opening road split, including a Saturday win over Central A rival Livingston, the Ponies will make their home debut tonight when they take on the Class AA CMR Rustlers at 7 inside the Havre High gymnasium.
The Rustlers are the defending runners-up in Class AA and return a senior-laden team. But they come to Havre tonight without their star, senior guard Haley Vining. Vining is considered one of the top Class AA players and has already committed to play for the University of Montana’s Lady Griz. But she is dealing with an injury and likely won’t play against the Ponies tonight.
Still, CMR has talent and size, both of which will test the Blue Ponies. The Rustlers have 6-2 Sara Wier on the inside and she’ll be a handful for the Ponies to guard in the paint. CMR also has an experienced team with plenty of firepower, but Havre head coach Dustin Kraske is looking forward to his team getting the opportunity to face one of the state’s top programs tonight.
“They (Rustlers) are obviously a very good, well-coached team,” Kraske said. “But we are always excited at about the opportunity to play them because we know playing a team like CMR will make us better.”
And HHS is already getting better just two games into the season. The Ponies took some lumps against Belgrade on Friday night, but responded with a stellar fourth quarter the next day in Livingston. And while Havre looks to its veteran players like Paighton Gilman, Christina Mack and point guard Jaclyn Evans, younger players are already stepping to the forefront too.
Over the weekend, junior Kassala Holdsclaw averaged 15 points per game for the Ponies while freshmen Payton Filius and Brandy Lambourne showed signs of great things to come. HHS also got outstanding play from the likes of Sammy Evans over the weekend as well.
“The neat thing about the two games this weekend was we got better,” Kraske said. “And that’s our primary focus right now. We want to make sure we played better against Livingston than we did against Belgrade and we did that. Now, hopefully, we’ll play better against CMR than we did against Livingston. That’s our goal right now, is to worry about what we do and focus on becoming a better basketball team with each game.”
Tonight’s home opener for the Pony girls will tip off at 7 p.m. at the HHS gym. The game against CMR is Havre’s last before the new year.