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Back to the Hardwood: Pony girls battle Bison, M-Ettes

 

January 3, 2014

Daniel Horton

Junior Morgan Mazurkiewicz and the Havre High girls basketball team will be on the road tonight, visiting the Class AA Great Falls High Bison. The Blue Ponies will return home to host the Class B Malta M-Ettes on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Break time is over and the Havre High girls basketball team is ready to go back to work.

Before the holiday break, the Central A Blue Ponies got off to a 3-1 start overall and a 2-0 start in the division. The final games before the break resulted in a 64-25 win over Livingston and a 57-37 win over Belgrade for HHS. It was a hot start, and the Ponies have only gotten better since the beginning of the season.

Today and Saturday, the Ponies will resume play, hopefully showing just how much they have improved.

Playing on the road tonight, the Ponies will face the Class AA Great Falls High Bison. The Bison are also 3-1 overall. Saturday, the Ponies will resume non-league action with a rematch against the Class B Malta M-Ettes at the Havre High gymnasium at 5 p.m. The M-Ettes defeated the Ponies 47-37 in the Ponies’ first game of the season, their only loss.

But exiting the break, the Ponies don’t want to just pick up where they left off, they want to continue to show improvement. Head coach Dustin Kraske said it was a good break and the team continued to build on their game and what they do best. At this point, the Ponies are still trying to get better by playing together, communicating more on defense and continuing to look for more offensive rhythm. If the Ponies have improved in all of those areas, they should be able to play well against both Great Falls High and Malta over the weekend.

“We were pretty happy to be 2-0 in our league and 3-1 overall,” Kraske said. “I think our kids were playing pretty good basketball right before the break, and we are just looking to improve upon that and hopefully play better basketball in January, and hopefully our best basketball at the end of the year in February. Our non-league games are fantastic this season. The teams are good and you have to be at your best or that isn’t good enough. We are looking forward to playing Great Falls and Malta. We had some good days off, but the kids are excited and looking to improve.”

The Bison are somewhat of a mystery to the Ponies this season, but they do know they can expect a talented team and a tough game.

GFH is small and quick, and play a similar style to HHS. The Bison are always well coached and not only pressed the Ponies with their defense last year, but also presented the Ponies with tough zone looks. The Bison can also score in transition, as well hit jump shots with athletes like Mercedes Bourgeau, Lizzy Klinker, Nora Klick and Mikaela Kynett.

The Ponies match up well, but heavily lean on their shooters to get past the Bison, especially against the zone defense. Peyton Filius and Brandy Lambourne have a lot to do with the Ponies success, but shooters like Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Tori Mazurkiewic and Breck Don can also help carry the load. Lacey Waid can slash to the hole and Haley Ohm’s size gives the Ponies scoring inside.

“They (Bison) will make us play well,” Kraske said. “Especially down there in Great Falls. It is always a difficult place to play, but we are looking forward to the challenge. I think they are one of the top five teams in Class AA — that is my opinion.”

But that same offensive core will have to continue to play at home on Saturday against the M-Ettes.

Malta isn’t the same powerhouse they have been in recent years, but did take advantage of the Ponies who did not play, or shoot well the first go-around. Malta still houses athletes like Sophia Stiles, Kelsey Kuhn, Darby Schye and Mercedes Stiles. But Havre’s Filius and Lambourne have shot very well as of late and should be able to help turn the tables the second time around.

However, it isn’t about revenge for the Ponies. A win would be nice, but HHS isn’t focused on that and that alone.

“We haven’t even talked about that. And when we do talk about it,” Kraske said. “It will be about playing better, not about getting even. That game is over with, we didn’t play our best and Malta played well. They are playing better I would assume, but so are we. We will have to play pretty good basketball to beat them, and our kids are looking forward to going out and doing their best.”

Tonight the Ponies will face the Bison of Great Falls High in Great Falls. Saturday, the Ponies will host the Malta M-Ettes at 5 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium.

 

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