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Pony girls host rival Eagles tonight

 

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It's tough to play well, but remain winless. But the Havre High girls basketball team continues to stay optimistic and is excited for this weekend's two conference matchups. Tonight the Central A Blue Ponies (0-2, 0-5) will host another winless program in the Lewistown Golden Eagles. The Ponies and Eagles will tip off at 7 p.m., while on Saturday the Ponies will play on the road where they will face the league leading Butte Central Maroons in Butte. "It should be a good weekend for us," Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. "I know our kids are looking forward to playing Lewistown and Butte Central, and looking forward to continuing to play well." With the Ponies still in the first half of their season, they are still more worried about where they are at rather than where the competition is. They haven't faced the Eagles or Maroons this season and won't gear their focus towards the competition until the second time around. "It isn't as much about what they do at the moment," Kraske said. "Of course we aren't going into either game blind, we have some ideas what we believe their thoughts are and how they conduct their basketball business. We are preparing to handle the programs as a whole rather than individual players." But even with that, the Ponies are well aware of what, and more importantly, who they are up against. The Eagles have a standout player in 5-8 McCalle Feller who is averaging over 10 points, three steals, nine assists and five rebounds per game to lead the team. And the Maroons have a handful of weapons themselves. They already make for a tough road trip, but when you add Quinn Peoples, Kacie McKeon and Lexie Murphy to the mix, the Maroons could give any program a run for their money. Peoples leads the team with 14.2 points and four assists per game. Murphy comes in with a seven point per game average, while McKeon comes in with over seven points and a team high four steals per game. "The Butte Central kids always impress me," Kraske said. "Because it seems that every one of them plays hard until the very end. And I would think that this year's team would be no different than the ones in the past." For the Ponies to come away with a win in either game, with one exception, Kraske just wants his girls to keep doing what they are doing. Overall HHS has played very well in their young 0-5 season. But Kraske would like to see the team come out and be more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. In their two games against Great Falls High and CMR the Ponies did play with more aggression offensively, but seeing it again this weekend would show that it is going to be a permanent facet of their game. Cassi Darrah leads the Ponies with an 11.3 point per game average, but Paighton Gilman has really come a long way and has looked more comfortable at the basket. Hayley Donovan and Cali Freier have also shown good improvement as of late. The two are combining for almost 10 points per game, and Donovan is leading the way with 66 percent 3-point average. "I think the kids have looked a little more to score," Kraske said. "And I would expect them (Freier and Donovan) to do the same, especially since they are in a position of being our senior leaders." Kraske has also made it clear he would like to use more of a seven man rotation this weekend. Kassala Holdsclaw and Shay Tatsey have earned extended varsity minutes off of the bench, and they have shown they can come in and add a little more offensive productivity. As well as getting the opportunity to see where the Ponies stack up in the conference, HHS is also hoping to come away with its first win. They have done a lot of things right in their first five games, but have lost several close contests. A win now would be the perfect opportunity to put a positive spin on the season, and get things going in the right direction. "Right now getting a win would be a nice addition to supplement the hard work the kids have been putting into our season," Kraske said. "The league games all prepare you for the divisionals, and granted it's nearly two months away, but games right now play into that." Tonight the Ponies will host the winless Eagles at 7 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium. And on Saturday the Ponies will play on the road where they will face the Maroons at 5 p.m.

 
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