The Havre High girls basketball team continues to turn heads with its impressive play this season. The Blue Ponies have shown consistent growth and improvement with a young squad, and are looking to makes moves again this weekend.
The Central A Blue Ponies have two more games this weekend, two more winnable games more importantly. Tonight the Ponie
s will hit the road, where they will face the conference rival Browning Indians (2-0) in Browning. And Saturday, the Ponies will return to the Havre High gymnasium in Havre where they will host the non conference Class B Conrad Cowgirls at 5 p.m.
Both squads the Ponies will face this weekend house talented rosters. And while the matchup with the Indians will ultimately prove to be more important, the Ponies are excited for both challenges, both on the road and at home.
“Browning is a good team,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “And we are a good team, so I think this is going to be a pretty good game. It will be a good opportunity for our kids to go down to their place and play our first conference game on the road against a team that is playing well. We are excited.
“We are going to have our hands full on Saturday as well,” Kraske added. “I think it will be another good game at home, and I know that our kids played so well at home last time, that we anticipate some fans will want to come back and maybe watch us play again. We are excited to play at home on Saturday and Conrad will come in here ready to play.”
While on the road in a tough environment, the Ponies are going to have all they can handle in the Indians tonight.
HHS is fully expecting a heavy dose of full-court pressure from Browning. It is how they play every season, and has proved to be a successful technique for the Indians. The Ponies have had a week to prepare, and will have to be ready to go from the opening tip off on offense and defense.
“They (Indians) like to get up and down the floor,” Kraske said. “We have to be ready for that, but we like to get up and down too I think, so the team that takes care of the ball better will probably have more success.”
Offensive play has been outstanding for the Ponies the last couple of weeks. They have gotten consistent production from Jaclyn Evans, Peyton FIlius, Sammy Evans and Brandy Lambourne, but they have also seen players like Lacey Waid step up and earn extended minutes off the bench. But whoever is on the floor for the Blue Ponies will have to anticipate the press and trap of Browning and not turn the ball over. They will also have to slow the tempo of the game somewhat, to better fit the Ponies rather than the Indians.
“I don’t know if a team can every totally prepare for that,” Kraske said. “But we have been trying to. I think the pressure that we give ourselves in practice helps us, but I don’t think you can ever prepare at the same level. We are going to have to be aware of numbers and take advantage when we have them and slow the ball down when we don’t.”
But the challenge of handling the up pace of Browning will also be there for the Pony defense.
Browning scores a lot of points in transition as the Indians average nearly 60 points per game this season. Marti Eagle Feathers leads Browning with over 17 a game. HHS has to slow the Indian offense down and it is going to take a total team effort. The Ponies have really stifled opposing offenses this season with their own style of press and trap play, and it is always due to the team effort. If the Ponies can keep their feet moving and their hands in the lanes, the Indians could find it hard to hit their 60 point average today.
“If everybody buys in and commits to playing hard,” Kraske said. “Our defense just becomes easier. Team defense is easier, so that is what we have been teaching our kids; you can’t take breaks on defense. You are either in or out, and if you aren’t in, you need to get in or we will find somebody who is.”
Saturday the Ponies will also have a tough team in the Cowgirls at home.
Conrad just played Browning last weekend and lost by a narrow 67-61 deficit. Conrad won’t present the same kind of challenge as the Indians, but the Ponies know they have a tough matchup against a team that has given them fits over the last several seasons.
The Cowgirls have a talented roster, including Morgan Van Dyke who posted 19 on the Indians. Rashelle Johns, Taylor Judisch and Hayley Orcutt also have double digit scoring ability and should gain a lot of focus form the Blue Pony defense.
Tonight the Ponies will face the conference rival Browning Indians in Browning at 7. And Saturday the Ponies host Conrad at 5 p.m. at the HHS gymnasium.