HHS boys host Lewistown tonight
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Conference games are always important. And though the Havre High boys basketball team would love nothing more than to clinch two conference games this weekend, the importance of improvement is being stressed more than anything. Tonight the Central A Blue Ponies (3-4, 7-7) will host the Lewistown Golden Eagles at the Havre high gymnasium. Also celebrating senior night, the contest will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday the Ponies will return to action while facing the Butte Central Maroons on the road. Seniors C.J. Evans and Thane Gray have earned most of the spotlight this season. Evans is No. 1 in scoring with 16.5 points per game and Gray is No. 2 with 12.7. Gray also leads the Ponies with nine rebounds per game, while Evans has racked up a team leading 51 assists. Both Gray and Evans have taken over the leadership roles, and done it well. "I have really been proud of both of those kids," Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. "They have really taken on the role of leaders of our team. They have been key guys in what we have done and we are pleased with their work ethic." Hopefully the senior leaders can lead the Ponies to two more conference wins this weekend. They have already defeated the Eagles 43-40 earlier this season, but fell to the Maroons 51-41 the fallowing nigh. As of the now, HHS is sitting in the No. 4 spot in the Central A. Browning leads the way with only one conference loss, while the Maroons sit in second with two losses and Belgrade in thirds with three. If the Ponies want to give themselves a shot at improving to the No. 3 spot by the end of the season, they will most likely have to sweep the last three conference games of the season. And if that doesn't happen the Ponies are making sure they remember the importance of constant improvement. "I think in even more important than winning, is just playing well," Smith said. "We need to play well on both sides of the ball, and I think if we do that we have a chance at getting a couple wins this weekend. But once you get to the divisional tournament, everything starts over." On the weekend the Ponies are looking to play like they did in Great Falls last weekend. Defensively the Ponies have to contest every shot, and can't give up any open 3-pointers. Both the Eagles and Maroons have talented shooters, and they have to keep the pressure on. The Eagles' offense runs through Nick Kozub and Jorden Vinger. Kozub averages 18.5 points per game while Vinger follows with 11.6. And for the Maroons, it will be Jonathan Richards, Aschan Richards and Andy Ritter that the Ponies have to lock down. Jonathan Richards averages 15.2 points per game, while Ritter averages 11.9. Aschan Richards is also a threat with a 9.8 points per game average. "We know that both teams have kids that can score in a hurry," Smith said. "They have guards that are tough on the perimeter. We know from experience that you can play right with them the whole game and those kids have the ability to take over. We just have to make sure we contain them." On offense, the Ponies are also looking to go at both opponents in the same way. The Ponies have a size advantage with Gray down low. They need to keep him involved and get him points in the paint. And keeping Gray involved down low should help with the weekend's goal of balanced scoring. Last weekend in the victory over Great Falls High, the Ponies' offense showed their true potential. They proved they don't have to rely on forced 3-pointers and can find the high percentage shots. If the Ponies can find a way to remain patient on offense, they should find success in both contests. "We had great balance last weekend," Smith said. "And that was big for our offense. It's been a while since we had that and it will be key again." Tonight the Ponies will host the Eagles at 7. And on Saturday the Ponies will take to the road where they will face the Maroons in Butte.