By Kim Staudinger
Havre High boys basketball coach Mark West should buy a lottery ticket because his luck is bound to change sometime soon.
Early this week, two of the Havre Blue Ponies' players were hurt. Sophomore guard Trent Normandy and junior Tyler Vincent are both suffering injuries. Normandy has a mildy sprained ankel and Vincent has swelling in his knee. West said this morning Normandy will play in tonight's game, but is not back to 100 percent. Vincent will be out for at least this weekend's games.
The tough schedule the Ponies play continues tonight as the CMR Rustlers come to town. Havre played CMR Jan. 10 in Great Falls, losing 70-45. The Rustlers only have one loss on the season at 9-1 while the Ponies are 3-9.
CMR is "a very, very good team," West said. "They are the best team we play. It's just part of our schedule that we're having to deal with in the number one teams we're having to play."
West said the key to the game for the Ponies is rebounds and not allowing second-chance baskets. The Rustlers had 25 offensive rebounds against the Ponies in the first matchup.
One bright spot for the Ponies in tonight's game is knowing the Rustlers will be without two players of their own tonight. Sophomore Jason Goodman, an All-State forward, is out due to a suspension for a rules violation, West said. Neither Great Falls Athletic Director Gary DeGooyer nor CMR head coach Mike McLean were available for comment this morning. Also out for the Rustlers is Ryan Bagley, underwent knee surgery earlier this week.
After tonight's tough game, the Ponies travel to Lewistown to take on the Eagles on Saturday. West said the Ponies should have won their first game with the Eagles on Dec. 21. Lewistown came back with a strong second half to defeat the Ponies 59-54. Havre hopes to be able to play consistently well for all four quarters of play in a key game on the road.
"We are trying to prepare ourselves as well as we can for the Lewistown game," West said. "We feel this game is one we can win. We felt we should have beat Lewistown here. We are not looking past CMR, but we feel a win over Lewistown is more realistic."
Since the first time these two teams met up, Lewistown (7-5) became the only team thus far to beat the Browning Indians. Lewistown defeated Browning, 94-92, in overtime on Jan. 12 on the road.
The Ponies matchup well with Lewistown, but must have a strong start to have success playing at the always hostile Lewistown gym. Despite a big win on the road over Browning, Lewistown lost to Malta Friday. Malta is a team the Ponies beat in overtime Jan. 5.