The Havre High girls basketball team is young, but last weekend they made big strides that are hoping to build off of. Last weekend the Central A Blue Ponies (0-2) dropped their first two games of the season. Malta beat the Ponies 48-45 and CMR beat the Ponies 57-52. But despite the losses, the Ponies played very well. They executed a lot of things right and looked competitive right out of the gate. Hopefully that play and improvement continues this weekend, when the Ponies host two conference opponents.
Tonight the Ponies will host the Livingston Rangers at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday the Ponies will host the Belgrade Panthers at 3:30
p.m. Both games will be played at the Havre High gymnasium.
“I think our kids are excited to see two teams that we respect a lot,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And see what kind of teams they both have. I know that the kids are feeling pretty good about how they played last week, and we have continued to have a pretty good week of practice. We are looking forward to playing two conference games at home.
“It is so difficult to win on the road in our league,” Kraske added. “That we need to be ready to play in our own gym. As far as getting two or getting a split, we aren’t too concerned with that. Right now the biggest thing is to get better, that is our main focus for December. But it would be nice to get a victory to go along with getting better, but it wouldn’t be the end of the road if we didn’t because it is too early in our season to be concerned with that.”
The Ponies' focus to keep getting better had propelled them into another solid week of practice.
And instead of focusing on merely what they will see this weekend from the competition, the Ponies put the majority of their focus into what they can build off of from last weekend’s games. HHS executed their high tempo style very well. They also ran their pressure defense well and forced a lot of turnovers, against CMR especially. The Ponies are looking to do those things right this weekend, but according to Kraske, they are also looking to better their shooting, urgency on defense, mental engagement, focus and responsibility during game time situations and the overall play from both the guard and post positions.
“We are focused on a lot of things that we can do,” Kraske said. “We aren’t spending a lot of time on what Livingston or Belgrade may or may not do, we are going to talk and be prepared for them, but honestly we are more interested in our team and how we can get better as a team. We spent the time on the things we don’t do well in the hopes that we can do them better this weekend.”
Brandy Lambourne, Sammy Evans, Peyton Filius, Chanel Standing Rock and Kaylie Gilman really stepped up for the Ponies last weekend. They played solid defense and led the team on offense. They will have to play well again this weekend, but Jaclyn Evans will also look to get back on track as one of the Ponies leading scorers from last season.
The better the Ponies execute, the better their chances. And facing two seemingly opposite styles this weekend, that won’t be easy.
The Rangers are talented at every position. They have 6-0 junior Courtney Njardvik at the post as well as Claire Meyers, a very talented guard. The Rangers are expected to work inside out and really pound the ball inside.
But on the other hand, the Panthers will most likely push the tempo and throw up a lot of outside shooting. Justine Taylor is a standout player for the Panthers, as are Dylan Fowler, Leighton Hirsch, Morgan Wandler and Annie Pricket. Fowler may not play because of an injury, but the Panthers are still deep and will look to put up a lot of shots.
“I think our team, Belgrade’s team and Livingston’s team are all in stages of development,” Kraske said. “And still trying to figure out who they are. But we are going to have to be prepared for conflicting styles of play this weekend. We respect both teams and we have to be ready to play because they will both be ready to play.”
The Ponies will host the Rangers tonight at 6:30 and the Belgrade Panthers Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Fans can get up-to-the-minutes results by following the Havre Daily News on twitter.