Heading back into conference play, the Havre High girls basketball team has a chance to add two more wins to its record.
The Central A Blue Ponies are 4-0 in conference play and are 7-3 overall. And gearing up to play two conference teams the Ponies already beat once this season, Havre could very well return home from the road trip with a flawless 6-0 conference record.
Tonight HHS will face the Livingston Rangers in Livingston, and Saturday the Ponies will face the Belgrade Panthers in Belgrade.
“We are pretty excited,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Belgrade and Livingston are two nice teams and we are excited to play them on the road. We will see how mature our team is by how we play on the road this weekend, and I am excited.”
Havre hosted both squads earlier this season and found a way to earn wins over both. The first time around the Ponies defeated the Rangers 65-30 and the Panthers 50-48. And if the Ponies are firing on all cylinders, they have to like their chances in both games again, even it that means earning two wins in two very tough environments.
Livingston got steamrolled by the Ponies, but could be a different team at home. The Rangers do have some talented players, including 6-0 junior Courtney Njardvik and Clair Meyer. Njardvik and Myer led the Rangers last time with a combined 17 points, and could be the difference makers this time if the Ponies defense doesn’t put a stop to them.
The Rangers like to pound the ball inside, but the Ponies put a stop to that with their pressure defense that forced 29 turnovers in their first meeting. If the Ponies can do that again, they will have no trouble outscoring the opposition, especially in transition with players like Lacey Waid coming in off the bench who like to get out and run.
Belgrade on the other hand likes to push the tempo just as the Ponies do. They take a lot of outside shots and rely on players like Justine Taylor, Leighton Hirsch and Dylan Fowler to knock them down. The Panthers’ press defense also hurt the Ponies last time around and HHS has to get around that. Havre’s well executed defense helped earn the win early in the season, but Peyton Filius, Brandy Lambourne, Jaclyn Evans, Sammy Evans and Chanal Standing Rock have really come on strong offensively the last couple of weeks and have the potential to lead the Ponies to another win.
“The kids are excited to get down there and play,” Kraske said. “We respect Livingston and Belgrade and they are both going to be great games. They are going to give us their best shots and both games are going to be difficult tasks for us. But I think our kids will be ready to go.”
Havre has found success focusing on their game plan rather than the competitions and that will remain a constant this weekend. Despite whatever offense or defense the Rangers or Panthers throw at the Ponies, fans can expect the Ponies to do what has made them successful. Meaning, the Ponies will look to earn a couple of wins with team basketball. They will push the tempo, harass teams on defense and just execute their style of play the way they want to execute it.
“I think we have to continue to focus on our team and what we can do to get better,” Kraske said. “It always seems like the bounces go in favor of the home team, just like I think that happens here in Havre, but this weekend is going to show us how mature we are. The bounces may not go our way, but how will we handle that? We just need to continue to play hard and play together.”
Tonight the Ponies will face the Rangers and Saturday the Ponies will face the Panthers, both games coming on the road.