The Havre High boys basketball team has had a handful of short turnarounds this season, and the trend doesn’t stop this week. After playing two tough games over the weekend, the Blue Ponies will now face one of the top Class B teams in the state.
Tonight the Central A Ponies (3-10) host the defending state champion Malta Mustangs at the Havre High gymnasium. Tipoff is slated for 7.
After losses to Class AA Great Falls High and CMR over the weekend, the Ponies now face an equally dangerous Class B team. The Mustangs are gaining momentum as the season progresses, including wins over Harlem and Rocky Boy last weekend. The win over Rocky Boy was especially impressive, as the Mustangs took down the Stars 80-48 on Thursday.
“We are in that game mode right now,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “We didn’t play very well the first time, so I think we are ready to play them again. I think the Great Falls games helped us, you get better when you play better competition, so I think the kids learned a lot over the last couple of games, including what it takes to get a win over a good team.”
HHS knows what the Mustangs are capable of first hand.
Early in the season the Mustangs defeated the Ponies 65-31 in Malta. The Mustangs are stacked with talent, especially at the guard position. Kendall Denham has led the way for the Mustangs the last couple of years, but gets plenty of help from the rest of the roster. Zach Handley and Tucker Schye are also dangerous weapons, as Handley posted 24 on Rocky Boy, while Schye was good for 19.
For the Ponies to turn the tables on the Mustangs, they have to take the ball out of the key player’s hands, and make other Mustangs take shots. The more shots Denham has, the better Malta is. If the Ponies can shut him down, they have to like their chances.
“We are focused on ourselves, but also Malta,” Leeds said. “We need to take away Denham, as well as Handley, and limit the points in the paint from Tucker Schye. But we have to play him (Denham) tough and make him put the ball on the floor. We need good help defense, and we have to be in his face constantly.”
The Pony defense has looked very strong as of late, especially in their zone looks. But depending on what works best, the Ponies will be ready to come out in either a zone or man look.
And the Ponies have their own weapons on the offensive end of the floor.
Dane Warp has already emerged as the Ponies’ top scorer, and will need a big game tonight. Nate Rismon also continues to climb the scoring ranks for HHS with his outside shooting ability, while Kade Rismon and Ramsey Drew also help carry the load night in and night out.
Senior Thurman Holdsclaw is also expected to return tonight for the Ponies. He missed the last two games, but will be a huge addition with his offense, but more importantly his defensive presence.
The Ponies and Mustangs will tipoff tonight at 7 at the Havre High gymnasium. HHS is on the road Friday in Lewistown, then returns home to host Shelby Saturday.