The key is going to be defense. The Havre High girls basketball team has two very important conference matchups this weekend, but defense is what is going to be the determining factor.
The Central A Blue Ponies will face two conference opponents this weekend. Tonight, the Central A Ponies will host the Lewistown Golden Eagles at the Havre High gymnasium at 7 p.m. And on Saturday the Ponies will take to the road to face the very tough, league leading Butte Central Maroons.
As of now, the Ponies are sitting in fifth place with a 2-5 league record. And with Lewistown sitting just above the Ponies and Butte Central sitting at the top of the ranks still undefeated, one or two wins this weekend would really help the Ponies move up in the league standings.
Earlier this month the Ponies fell to the Eagles 53-36. But it was a shaky second half that resulted in the lopsided loss.
“I don’t know if it was lack of effort or what,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “But we just didn’t put together our best 16 minutes of basketball in the second half of that game when it was in reach.”
If the Ponies hope to turn the tables on the Eagles, they have to account for McCalle Feller and Amanda Stenseth. But HHS also has to just play better defense. They tried to apply some pressure on the Eagles the first time around, and Kraske said the Ponies lost some kids in transition and gave up easy buckets.
“I think we can do a better job against them the second time around,” Kraske said. “I thought the first time the effort was pretty good, but in the second half we didn’t have the effort we should have and let the game slip away. They are a good team and we are looking forward to playing them.”
Facing the deep and talented Maroons on Saturday, the Ponies know that good defense still remains as their biggest challenge. In their first meeting the Maroons defeated the Ponies 64-38.
The Maroons lead the conference for a reason, they are good. And being led by one of the state's top players in Quinn Peoples, as well as Lexie Murphy and point guard Stacie McKeon, they can put up points in a hurry.
“They are a nice team,” Kraske said. “They are one of the better teams in the Class A and are well coached. It will be a challenge for us to go down there and play them.”
Paighton Gilman, Jaclyn Evans, Peyton Filius and Kassala Holdsclaw continue to lead the Ponies' offense, but their defense has to be present as well this weekend. Both the Eagles and Maroons house talented squads that can knock down shots, and if the Ponies hope to stay competitive and even grab a win or two, they have to play defensive minded.
Tonight's tip-off between the Ponies and Eagles will be at 7 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium. And on Saturday, the Ponies will tip off in Butte at 5 p.m.