It has been a steady season of progress for the Havre High girls basketball team, but the Blue Ponies have yet to put together the complete puzzle.
Now heading into the second half of their season, the Central A Ponies are still looking to make positive strides.
Tonight the Ponies (1-4, 1-6) will host the Belgrade Panthers at 5:30 p.m. And on Saturday, the Ponies will host the Livingston Rangers at 2 p.m. Both Central A games will be held at the Havre High gymnasium.
Belgrade and Livingston were the first two games of the season for the Ponies. And it was a rough start. HHS lost to the Panthers 52-43 and lost to the Rangers 54-40. But this time around, the Ponies are hoping to grab a win or two at home.
“There is going to be more familiarity the second time around.” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And really we are looking to defend better than we have been lately and to be able to handle pressure. We are just looking to play basketball at the level we are accustomed to seeing around here.”
Playing two conference opponents the second time around, HHS better knows what to expect.
Facing the Panthers, the Ponies know they will be pressured all night long. The Panthers play hard and are very good at forcing turnovers. The Ponies tried to simulate what they would be up against the first time, but couldn’t match their speed in practice. It is still hard to simulate in practice, but the Ponies now have an idea of what to expect Belgrade’s leading scorer Lyndsey Halgren and the high powered Panthers.
That was our first game out so I am looking forward to playing them again where it isn’t our first game out.” Kraske said. “Our kids are doing things a little different and learning some stuff.”
And for the Rangers, HHS knows they just have to play fundamentally sound for four quarters if they hope to be competitive. The Rangers didn’t have a glaring strong point, but they do everything well. The Ponies did a nice job against them in game one, but just have to do so for a complete game.
“I was pleased with our kids,” Kraske said. “We really executed well down in Livingston and that’s what sticks out in my mind.”
As the second half of the season tips off, there is a lot to be done. And it all starts this weekend. Havre has continually progressed and hopes to keep heading in the right direction. That means playing solid five on five basketball, not giving up easy and open baskets on defense, and making the extra pass and finding the open shot on offense.
“We are looking to have more of a sense of urgency defensively and get after teams.” Kraske said. “And on offense we want to execute the little things that make your team better. We demonstrate improvement all the time, the only bad things is that we don’t consistently play that way. Sometimes a couple kids will play well and other won’t, and then other times somebody else will play well while the other don’t again. We just have to be more consistently better and focused. We have grown up and matured a lot and we have to continue to do that and get better.”
Jaclyn Evans, Paighton Gilman, Kassala Holdsclaw and Peyton Filius have carried the Ponies this year, all averaging over seven points per game. That has to continue as well as the steady input offensively and defensively from Sammy Evans, Christina Mack and Brandy Lambourne.
Tonight the Ponies (1-4, 1-6) will host the Panthers at 5:30 p.m. And on Saturday, the Ponies will host the Rangers at 2 p.m. Both Central A games will be held at the Havre High gymnasium.