Anytime the Havre High boys basketball team plays the CMR Rustlers, the Blue Ponies know it is going to be a tough game. But not having seen the Rustlers since week one of the season, hopefully the Blue Ponies will show they are much improved.
In just the seco
nd game of the season for the Central A Ponies, the Rustlers defeated the Ponies 59-33. Now several weeks later, the Ponies are looking to turn the tables. Saturday the Ponies will host the Rustlers in non-conference play.
Tip off will be at 5 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium in Havre.
This game coming right after the Ponies played the Great Falls High Bison makes this the end of a very tough weekend for the Ponies.
“This is probably the toughest weekend for us all year long,” Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. “When you look and see both Great Falls High and CMR in the same weekend, that is as tough as it gets for us.”
The Rustlers are an extremely tough to face, especially in just the second game of the season. CMR is big and physical, and flat out athletic on both sides of the ball. And to top things off, their true strength against the Ponies will be their size. Tanner Olsen towers over the Ponies at 6-7, while Josh Horner and Russ Morin report in at 6-5. The sheer size of the Rustlers inside changes a lot of teams’ offensive schemes.
The Ponies have some outside shooting ability with Ryan Brandt and Brandon Smith, but they can’t completely rely on perimeter shooting and avoid the paint all together. Thurman Holdsclaw has had a fantastic last couple of games, and has to continue to play like a big man and attack the board with a scorer’s mentality.
It is not going to be an easy task, but the Ponies know that already. The Rustlers are tough no matter how you slice it, and it is going to take a great performance from the Ponies if they are looking to grab the home win. Smith went off for 21 points against the Rustlers the first time around, but will still look for help from all over the lineup.
In their first matchup, the Ponies had nearly 20 turnovers and shot just under 30 percent form the field. They showed signs of being indecisive, but still have to take smart and high percentage shots against a talented defense.
But defense is also going to be key for the Ponies, as they have shown they can pester teams with full court press, zone and man defensive schemes. Kade Rismon and Rydell Ruff are going to have to be contributors in stopping the CMR post players, and Justin Jensen will look to keep his solid defensive play up as well. Jensen has had active hands and feet the last couple of games and has made some key defensive plays over the last couple of contests coming off the bench for the Ponies.
“Just with the matchups and the depth that CMR has, and their size, makes this a tough game,” Smith said. “We know we will have our hands full and we have to things fundamentally right if we want to compete. They have a great team and are big and physical, and this makes for a tough game. But if we can compete, this game is just going t make us better.”
Havre and CMR will tip of at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Havre High gymnasium.