As the Havre High boys basketball team continues to try and dig its way out of the slump it has found itself in, the schedule isn’t doing the Blue Ponies any favors by getting any easier.
The Central A Ponies are coming out of a rough weekend, where they dropped two straight games. And now with a short turnaround, hosting th
e Class B Malta Mustangs tonight at the Havre High gymnasium at 7 p.m., the Ponies have a more than worthy opponent to try and change their luck against.
The Ponies enter the contest with a 3-7 record overall, and try to turn the tables on the Mustangs that defeated the Ponies 47-34 in the Ponies season opener.
“We are really just striving to play more consistent,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “We look good at times, but then we go through stretches where we just don’t execute very well or have mental lapses. We just have to strive for that consistency.”
Defensively the Ponies have been more consistent than offensively. HHS has held teams to less than 40 points in four out of the last five games. But on offense, the Ponies haven’t held up their end of bargain. And now the Ponies are coming out of a loss where they held Conrad to 35 points, but only managed 26 of their own.
Brandon Smith and Ryan Brandt have steadily led the Ponies scoring efforts, but the coaching staff is still looking for Rydell Ruff, Thurman Holdsclaw and Kade Rismon to get more involved.
“Any time you hold a team to 35 points,” Coach Smith said. “You feel like you have a chance to win. But we just have to work harder and do a better job of working together to get somebody a better look on offense. That means better execution on offense.
“It is going to be really tough against Malta because it is tough to get going offensively against them,” Smith added. “Last time we played them, they switched up their presses against us, they played man, they played zone and really try to disrupt your offense so you can’t get into a rhythm. Malta does a good job of mixing their defense just to keep you adjusting, and the way our offense has been struggling, this is going to be a difficult matchup for us.”
Smith said his players are going to have to be mentally prepared on offense for tonight’s matchup against the Mustangs. They are going to have to make a lot of in game adjustments and have to be aware of the changes the Mustangs are making on defense.
But the HHS defense will also have their hands full.
The Mustangs have rolled through the competition this season, and they aren’t going to be held to 40 or less without a fight. Malta has great talent like Kendall Denham who posted 15 points against the Ponies in their first meeting. Malta also has Kyle Boos who scored 14 in the first meeting and a handful of other scorers from inside and out.
The Ponies defense will be tested as they continue to hone their full court press and half court zone and man defenses.
“They have some shooters and they have some kids that can score,” Smith said. “They will be a tough matchup for our defense too.”
Tonight marks the start of a three-game week for the Ponies. Havre also travels to Central A rivals Livingston on Friday night and Belgrade on Saturday afternoon.
The Ponies and Mustangs will tip off tonight at the Havre High gymnasium at 7 p.m.