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Blue Pony girls face Panthers, Rangers

 


It's not often a team enters the second week of the season without a game under its belt, and while the Havre High Blue Ponies find themselves in that very scenario, they hope to end the droubt this weekend.

This weekend the Central A Pony girls will face two conference opponents on the road. Tonight, the Ponies will face the Belgrade Panthers and on Saturday the Ponies will face the Livingston Rangers.

Last week the Ponies were scheduled to face the Malta M-Ettes, but the game was canceled due to severe weather. Now with nothing but practice time under their belts the Ponies are just excited to play a game, conference opponent or not.

"That's probably the most important thing about the weekend," Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. "Is that we get to play a game. We are potentially the only team in the state who hasn't played a game and our kids are excited. We have been practicing fairly well, but it's been hard maintaining a high level because we are in the mid twenties of practices and it's time to be rewarded by playing somebody who doesn't have a uniform that says Havre Blue Ponies on it. We're really excited, and to play two conference opponents right off the bat, we will take it because it's time to play a game."

But the Ponies don't know a whole a lot about either of their conference matchups.

The Panthers didn't really lose too many girls from last year, and the Ponies will look to focus on returning players Justine Taylor and Lindsey Halgren. And for the Rangers, they graduated nearly their entire varsity roster, leaving the Ponies in the dark on which junior varsity players from a year ago will step up and take over.

"We don't know a whole lot about Park," Kraske said. "But we do know a little more about Belgrade. And the systems that they both run, I feel fairly confident that they are what they ran in the past and what they will be doing this season as well."

But the Ponies aren't necessarily too concerned with what the Rangers or Panthers are going to do. Since the Ponies have yet to play a game this year, Kraske is more concerned with how his young squad is going to perform.

Kraske said that he is just looking for the Ponies to play hard. And playing two conference opponents early is actually somewhat of a good thing.

Belgrade and Livingston have already played each other, and will both face Browning this weekend. And just around the corner Belgrade and Livingston are scheduled to face Lewistown and Butte Central. How the Ponies play this weekend will really give them a good idea at how they look compared to the conference. And if the Ponies don't play so well this time around, they have the entire season to make adjustments throughout the young squad.

Jaclyn Evans, Christina Mack and Paighton Gilman lead the way this year for the Ponies with the most varsity experience. But with Kraske still contemplating the best players to surround them with, other starting hopefuls include Kassala Holdsclaw, Peyton Filius, Brandy Lambourne, Sammy Evans, Ashlynn Van Voast and Lacey Waid.

Good defense is a must this weekend.

No matter what the Ponies face, they are looking to play sound team defense. Their ability to play defense will set up the offense on the opposite end of the floor, and will keep them in the game if the offense struggles.

And offensively, HHS is hoping to get out and run and hopefully find a way to score some transition buckets. But if the high tempo approach doesn't work, the Ponies are prepared to sit back and play a version of their normal offense.

"We want to be patient like we have been," Kraske said. "But maybe a little less patient than we have in the past, I don't know. I thought last year we were overly patient and that led to us averaging about 37 seven points per game. I would like to get a few more buckets this year, but it all depends. We are just going to focus on playing hard and playing together and we will be pleased."

Tonight the Ponies will face the Belgrade Panthers and on Saturday the Ponies will face the Livingston Rangers, both games on the road.

 

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