By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Havre Blue Ponies are coming off a four-game winning streak, while the Browning Indians, with the addition of two top players, have gone 2-4, dropping some close games.
The two teams will meet in head-to-head action tonight at the Havre High School gymnasium.
"Browning has been playing a lot of games close lately," Havre head coach Dennis Murphy said.
The addition of Alden Spoonhunter and Jess Edwards to the Browning lineup has made some games slightly more interesting. Those two did not play the last time Havre and Browning met. The Blue Ponies won that matchup, 77-64.
Since the addition of Spoonhunter and Edwards, two of the Indians four losses were by two points, and one loss was in overtime.
"They are not winning a lot of games, but they are playing a lot better basketball than they were earlier in the year," Murphy said.
Browning (3-9) fell to No. 2 Shelby 62-60 last weekend.
The Ponies, on the other hand, have also experienced a change in tide since the last contest against the Indians. On Jan. 7, when they played at Browning, the Blue Ponies were in the middle of a losing streak that would extend to five, with only one win, before it ended.
However, since the skid ended, Havre (8-6) has won four straight games. Most recently, they dumped Central A foe Lewistown, 45-36, and Class AA Great Falls High 68-61 on the road.
"We are just trying to get better at what we are doing," Murphy said.
Part of that includes more strident defensive man-to-man pressure, and deliberate execution of the offense.
While the Havre offense centers around Central A's leading scorer Ricky Brown, his supporting cast has stepped up recently.
Landen Grant is the Ponies' leading rebounder and is tough inside, averaging 10.5 points per game and 8.1 rebounds.
Nate Baltrusch and Scott Rice have also proven they can notch double figures for Havre.
Jesse Suek has filled a starting role for Havre, while Ryan Fink and Cliff Cooper have come off the bench strong of late.
Leo Bullchild and Delbert Trombley can hit the 3-pointer for the Indians, while Edwards and Trombley pose the greatest scoring threat from anywhere on the floor.
Bullchild and Edwards are quick at the guard, while Edwards also contributes on the rebounding end.
Varsity tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.