The Havre High boys basketball team has two home games this weekend. And with the two games leading off five consecutive home games for the Blue Ponies, HHS is entering into a favorable stretch in the schedule.
Tonight the Central A Ponies will host the conference rival Browning Indians and Saturday HHS will host the Class B Conrad Cowboys. Tonight the Ponies and Indians will tip off at 7 p.m. and Saturday tip off between the Ponies and Cowboys will be at 5 p.m., both games at the Havre High gymnasium.
But the Blue Ponies also host Great Falls on Monday, as well as Belgrade and Livingston next weekend.
“This is kind of the stretch we have been waiting for,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “We play five home games in a row. We have to try and take care of business here at home. This is a very important weekend and a very important five games for us.”
Getting wins in both games would be a huge boost for the Ponies (2-4, 2-2), but tonight’s matchup against the Indians is heavy on the Ponies minds.
Right now the Ponies sit in the No. 2 spot in the conference and would like to keep it that way. A win would help separate the Ponies from the rest of the pack.
It’s no secret that the Indians are a very fast, and a very high-tempo program. They love to press on defense and get out and run on offense. And with their speed so well known, that’s exactly what the Ponies are preparing for. HHS wants to try and slow down on offense and take care of the ball. And if they can’t do that, they know they are going to be in trouble.
“It’s a conference game and that’s what we are really preparing for,” Smith said. “Those are the things that will hurt us. The thing about Browning is they constantly put pressure on you and they really get after you. They just keep the tempo high and make you play a lot faster than you want to. If we turn the ball over chances are they will have the numbers. It will turn into a three on two or two on one. We have to really do a good job of taking care of the ball and handling their pressure.”
Though the Ponies aren’t taking any extra time to prepare for Conrad, they certainly aren’t overlooking the Cowboys.
The Ponies and Cowboys played each other over the summer and the Ponies know first hand just how talented the Class B squad is. The Cowboys can really hurt a team if overlooked. They have a sound offensive and defensive program, and though they sit amongst the bottom of their division, the 1B is very tough conference where Conrad sits at 1-4.
“We aren’t taking them lightly,” Smith said. “We are prepared for them just as we would if we were playing anybody else. We just know we have to keep doing the things that we have been doing.”
At the start of the season the Ponies relied heavily on Logan Connor and Anfernee Standing Rock for their offense. But in the last two games as they struggled, Brandon Smith, Ryan Myers and Drew Kafka have stepped up in their place. But heading into the weekend and the rest of the season for that matter, the Ponies need to come together as whole if they wish to keep finding success.
“From here on out it has to be a team effort every night,” Coach Smith said. “We talked about playing as a team and we need to rely on everybody. It can’t be one kid or the other, we all just have to do our jobs.”
Tonight the Ponies will host the conference rival Indians at the Havre High gymnasium at 7 p.m. And Saturday HHS will host the Class B Cowboys at the Havre High gymnasium at 5 p.m.