Tough Central A tests await HHS girls
The season is still young for the Havre High girls basketball team, but with two tough conference opponents lined up for the weekend, the Blue Ponies are already looking too see how they stack up.
Sitting at 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the Central A, the Ponies will face two conference opponents this weekend. Tonight the Ponies will face the Lewistown Golden Eagles (0-3, 0-0) in Lewistown, and on Saturday the Ponies will host the Butte Central Maroons (3-2, 1-0) at the Havre High gymnasium at 5 p.m.
"These conference games are pretty important," Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. "And I am looking forward to playing both of these teams. This will be a good test as we get closer to divisionals, it will be a good measuring stick as to where we are."
Facing the Eagles on Friday, the Ponies don't know exactly what they are up against as Lewistown is under a new head coach this season. But the Eagles have proved to be a tough opponent year in and year out, and should prove to be so again tonight.
McCalle Feller and Amanda Stenseth will be very tough matchups for the Ponies defense. And they both have outside shooting abilities, with Feller shooting 41 percent behind the 3-point arc and Stenseth shooting 20 percent behind the arc.
When the Ponies host the Maroons on Saturday, they will have their hands full once again.
The Maroons are a favorite to win the Central A this season. They made a trip to the state tournament a year ago, and will most likely do so again with the return of almost the entire squad.
Kacie McKeon, Quinn Peoples and Lexie Murphy lead the Maroons, but the most notable returner is Peoples who earned All State honors last season as a junior. Peoples is averaging nearly 17 points per game and over 20 percent from three.
"I think anytime you play somebody on the road it's a challenge," Kraske said. "We are going to have to be totally focused as to what we are doing. And playing Butte Central at home, they are expected to win so we are going to have our hands full. We are excited and really looking forward to this weekend."
The Ponies are anxious to see how they match up against some top Class A talent, but in preparation, the Ponies are still concerned with what they do instead of what the opposition does.
"Early in the week we are always more concerned with ourselves than them (opponent)," Kraske said. "We are continually trying to improve. Closer to the weekend we do some things to try and match up with their personnel and try to take advantage of situations potentially. But early in January, we look more to how we can improve."
Defensively the Ponies are looking to play hard and apply ample pressure, while hopefully forcing turnovers. And on offense, HHS is looking for the opposite. The Ponies need to take care of the ball, they have done better as of light, but are still looking for that consistency.
"The kids are doing really nice job of really trying to do what we are emphasizing," Kraske said. "But sometimes I think they forget that as a player they still have to make some plays and be aggressive and go out of the box to what our plan is. But we will get there, we are practicing well and doing a nice job."
Paighton Gilman has been growing as the Ponies' inside threat and is closer to being injury free. Jaclyn Evans and Kassala Holdsclaw are also playing well from the guard position and are attacking the basket very well. Peyton Filius and Christina Mack have also played well this season and continue to do so while the Ponies keep looking for consistent offensive production.
Tonight the Ponies will face the Eagles in Lewistown at 7, and on Saturday the Ponies will host the Maroons at the Havre High gymnasium at 5 p.m.