Both the Havre High boys and girls basketball teams have already faced one Class AA opponent, and now heading into week three of the season, both Blue Pony squads will face another tough Class AA team before heading into the holiday break. The Blue Pony girls (2-0, 2-2) will make their home debut tonight at the Havre High gymn
asium, tipping off with the Great Falls High 3-1 Bison at 7. The HHS boys (0-2, 0-4) will face GFH in great Falls, looking for their first win against a very talented Bison squad that is 2-2 on the season.
Playing their first game at home, the Pony girls will look to continue their recent hot streak.
“It should be a pretty good game,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “Great Falls is playing real well right now and has a good team. We are looking forward to playing them and looking forward to playing well at home.”
After starting the season 0-2 in non-conference play, the Ponies won their last two games, both conference games. And facing the Bison just before the break, the Ponies want to continue to compete at a high level before the two weeks with no games. And while the Ponies have been hot as a team, Brandy Lambourne has been a spark offensively. Over the last two wins, HHS has outscored the opposition by a combined 34 points, and in both games, Lambourne led the Ponies as well as all scorers with 19 points in each outing.
But facing a very talented Great Falls team, the Pony offense will have to play well if they want to remain in the win column. The Bison are coming off of a win where they held Helena High to just 33 points. And the plan has been the same for the Ponies each week this season. They want to control the pace of the game with their up-tempo style of offense, as well as work for the easy and transition buckets. And with Neya Bischoff and Haley Ohm playing down low for the Ponies, they have an inside scoring presence. Guards Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Tori Mazurkiewicz, and Peyton Filius have also played very well to start the season.
“It would be nice for our kids to continue to shoot the ball with confidence like they have been,” Kraske said. “Our biggest thing is, and from what we have seen, they run a zone against our offense. We have done some things with our zone offense so that we can hopefully help it be a little more efficient, so we will just have to see how we can react to making changes while still playing and making plays.
“I think the biggest thing we can take out of a non-conference game,” Kraske added. “Is, are we doing the little things right and are we doing them well? That will hopefully help us find some success down the roads in games that maybe mean a little more than our non-conference games.”
Almost every Bison that will take the floor tonight against the Ponies could be a double-digit threat. Markaela Francis, Jessica Keller, and Callee Remsen seem to be leading the way at this point, but athletes like Nora Klick, Brice Hennings, and Kelsey Kelvin have also show the ability to knock down shots. Remsen adds to offensive threat with her shooting ability from behind the three-point arc.
HHS will look to execute their defensive pressure, but with so many weapons to press and cover, it will take a total team effort to slow down, and get a win over the Bison.
In boys action, the Ponies are still looking for their first win of the season, as they have seen steady progress since game one of week one.
“We are just going to keep working on what we do,” Head coach Curt Leeds said. “And get better at them. Once again, we really executed a lot better this last weekend offensivley and defensively, but little things that we can do will help us improve even more. Going against a AA school is great, they are going to be more physical, taller, and stronger, but this is a great way for us to get better.”
Freshman Dane Warp, who is still learning at the guard position, as well as post play this season, has really stepped up offensively. Through the beginning portion of the season Warp leads the Ponies with 16 points per game. Kade Rismon follows with just over eights-points per game, also coming from the post game as HHS continues to build on their inside out approach to the offense.
On defense, the Ponies will also continue to play towards their strengths, while some tweaks may be in order. HHS forces teams to beat them from the outside, allowing the opposition to throw up shots rather than getting into the paint. But after Belgrade used that to beat the Ponies last weekend, the Ponies will need to get a hand up quicker, and make sure the deep shots are still contested.
Dylan Tatarka and Laance Racine can heat up from outside, and will garner a lot of defensive pressure if the Ponies hope to find a way to win. Guards like Ramsey Drew and Brian Smith will be key on defense as they apply a lot of the perimeter pressure for HHS.
If the Ponies can play well, they will head into the break with a lot of momentum. And with more conference play just around the corner, this is the perfect time to keep improving and begin to click on all cylinders.
“There is nothing that we really need to do more of,” Leeds said. “It is just that we need to execute better. But that is going to take time, and running a new offense and defense, that takes time. We have grown by leaps and bounds since our first game.”
Tonight the HHS girls will host the Bison at the Havre High gymnasium at 7, while the HHS boys face the Bison in Great Falls at 7.