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HHS boys host Indians tonight

Now sitting at 2-1 in conference play, the Havre High boys basketball team is stressing just how important it is to play well this weekend. With two games lying just ahead of the Blue Ponies, one conference and on non conference, HHS has an opportunity to climb the ladder.

Tonight at 7 p.m. the Central A Ponies (3-5 2-1) will host the conference rival Browning Indians, the leaders in the Central A

Havre High senior Justin Jensen launches a 3-pointer during a boys basketball game against Shelby last Saturday at the Havre High gymnasium. The Blue Ponies are home tonight, hosting the Browning Indians in a big Central A contest. HHS will also travel to Class B power Conrad on Saturday. For updates from tonight's game, follow the Havre Daily News on twitter at twitter/havredaily.

at 2-0. And Saturday the Ponies will play on the road, taking on the Class B Conrad Cowboys in Conrad.

"(Browning) is a big game," Havre High head coach Andy Smith said. "Against the conference leader as of right now. We played them close last year a couple of times and they have all of their key players back. I think they feel like it is their year, and I think most of the coaches in our conference would say that Browning is the team to beat.

"Our first priority this week was to get ready for Browning because they just demand that much attention." Smith added. "They do so many things well that we had to work on, but in turn, that really helps a team prepare for anybody they face., including Conrad."

Smith has some very specific keys to defeating browning, the epitome of a run and gun style.

First off, HHS has to handle the pressure and take care of the ball on offense. They can't get trapped in the backcourt, and they can't give up the ball near the basket. The Indians thrive on turnovers and can easily turn those into runs of points, demonstrated by their average of nearly 70 points per game.

On defense the Ponies have to get back in transition. Browning loves to get up and down the floor, so the Ponies will have their hands full getting back, and forcing the Indians to set p some sort of offense. Finally, the Ponies have to rebound well, meaning Thurman Holdsclaw, Kade Rismon and Rydell Ruff have to crash the boards down low. The Indians take full advantage of second and third chance opportunities, and aren't afraid to fire up a lot of shots because so.

"When they get a couple of steals they can put you down in a hurry," Smith said. "The game can get away from you real quick because Browning can score so quick, so we have to be able to withstand some of their runs. They are up tempo all the time, especially on offense. They are going to put shots up early and often, and they are going to crash the boards. They get so many rebounds that they aren't going to hesitate to shoot."

Browning may be averaging close to 70 points, but the Havre High defense hasn't allowed more than 40 in their last four outings. The defense has carried the Ponies this season, so yet again, Brandon Smith and Ryan Brandt have to be ready to match the Indians with some clutch shooting.

The Indians are led by the likes of Dee Jay Lazyboy, Cliff Olliinger and Josiah Davis. They can all put up points and can do so quickly.

"We have played great the last four games," Coach Smith said. "But this is a huge test. Browning can score so many different ways that it makes them tough to defend. They penetrate and have shooters on the outside and really use their athleticism and quickness well. "

Conrad will be another tough game for the Ponies, but in a different way. They always challenge the Ponies to play their best, but will do so with a little bit of size. 6-5 senior Ben Moerkerke hurt the Ponies last year and just posted 27 on Browning last weekend. HHS will have to keep him out of the paint and force the Cowboys to find offense elsewhere.

Tonight at 7, the Ponies will host the Indians at the Havre High gymnasium, and Saturday the Ponies will play on the road, taking on the Cowboys in Conrad at 5 p.m.


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