By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High girls basketball team takes to the court this weekend with the first half of the season already over.
The only team the Ponies have yet to play this season is the Chinook Sugarbeeters, whom they will play tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Blue Pony Corral.
The Sugarbeeters, currently third in the District 2B standings, bring a 6-3 record into the game, while Havre sits at 5-4. Though the Ponies won two games in a row, including knocking off undefeated Browning, before losing to CMR last Thursday, coach Dennis Murphy said his team cannot look past any team this weekend, despite playing three Class B schools.
"We can't overlook anybody," Murphy said. "Anytime you play a team a second time around, you can't overlook them. They are going to make adjustments from the first time you played them."
Senior Kelsie Whitney, a three-year varsity starter for the Beeters, is coming off a big weekend in which she broke the school's single-game scoring record with 33 points against Poplar. The previous record of 30 points was set by Sue O'Brien in 1983.
"When (Kelsie) plays well, the team plays well," Murphy said of the Sugarbeeters. "She's a good player. We have to find a way to contain her."
Whitney is not the only player of concern for the Ponies, as Jen Baird, Kelly Acra and Cecilia Moody all bring back some experience for Chinook.
"Their post players Acra and Baird have done a nice job at the post this year," Murphy said. "And Moody is a good shooter when she has the time."
One advantage the Ponies have had over many teams this year is team height. Chinook coach Bill Keller said his team has some size of its own, making the depth of the Havre bench his primary concern.
"Their depth is so great," Keller said. "We are going to have to mix it up in order to compete."
Keller said the game will be a game of matchups, where one team's disadvantage will be the other team's advantage.
"It's somewhat of a two-way street here," Keller said. "Our guards are fairly quick, so his advantage will be in the post area. But our perimeter game with his post players trying to defend 20-feet out on the ball, will be an advantage to us."
Keller said his team is building confidence right now and is "learning how to win," creating a difficult task for his team to achieve.
"Over the last couple of years we haven't beaten them," Keller said. "They handed us a few good losses last year. The key for us is to not come in intimidated."
Havre's three-game weekend continues on Friday, traveling to Harlem to take on the Wildcats (2-8). In the first match-up with Harlem in early Sept., the Wildcats were handed an embarassing 50-point loss, 83-33.
Still, the Ponies know taking to the road is never an easy task and look for a much closer game.
"They were intimidated the first time and being at home, they should come in more relaxed, so it should be a closer game," Murphy said. "It looks like they are playing a lot better than the first time" they faced Havre.
The third and final game for the Ponies this weekend is Saturday against Glasgow. The Ponies defeated the Scotties by 23 points, 62-39.
Britney Archambeault led the Scotties with 15 points in the Sept. 8 contest, but Murphy sees Amber Garten as more of a threat. Garten was the second leading scorer for Glasgow with seven points.
"We had a real difficult time controlling the Garten girl," Murphy said. "She's pretty athletic and can get around a lot of people. We are going to have to contain her."
The Ponies were behind early in the first game against Glasgow, but came back with a huge 24-point second quarter to pull away with the win.
Murphy looks for Glasgow to play its zone scramble defensive press which can present problems at times, but said good things can happen once a team is able to get past the first line of defenders.
"We need to play three games this weekend," Murphy said. "I want us to start getting more consistent and want to get better every week."