It is that time again for the Havre High girls basketball program; it is time for them to face the always-tough CMR Rustlers in non-league play.
The Central A Blue Ponies have played the Class AA Rustlers once already, but wound up with a loss early in the season. But the 57-52 loss came in just the second game of the year for the Ponies, and as fans and other teams have began to notice, the once young and inexperienced Blue Pony squad is now playing with a much higher level of consistency and success.
Saturday night, the Central A Ponies will travel to Great Falls to take on the non-conference Rustlers. Tip off will be at 4:30 p.m.
The Ponies are trying to get out of a little bit of downward spiral, but it will be tough to do against the Rustlers. And even with their work cut out for them, the Ponies are excited to play CMR
"CMR is a great team," Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. "This will be fun. We are looking forward to playing them. They will get up and get after us just like Great Falls High did (on Thursday night), almost exactly the same."
CMR produces a talented and athletic squad each and every season. This year is not exception, but the Ponies have to like their chances. In the first meeting this year, the Ponies played the Rustlers very tight, losing by just five points. HHS did well to limit the CMR offense, but at times they just couldn't keep up, like in the second quarter for example, when the Ponies were outscored 27-13 and forced to play from behind.
But Havre High has done a lot of growing up since then, and has showed the capability of beating a team like the Rustlers. The Ponies are coming off of a tough 50-30 loss to Great Falls High, and coach Kraske would like to see his team overcome an obstacle like the Rustlers, even with how tough they will be.
"Frankly," Kraske said. "I am worried about our team, not CMR. We are worried about Havre High, and Havre High has to get better. We are in a little bit of the rut."
On defense, the Ponies show they can hurt teams with a physical full court press, or a physical man-to-man in the half court. The Ponies have also shown a knack of scoring in transition, and nobody has benefited from that more than Lacey Waid who comes off the bench for the Ponies. But it is never easy stopping a six footer, and the Ponies will experience that again on Saturday, when they have their hands full with 6-2 Sara Wier. Wier scored 12-points last time out against HHS.
And on offense, the Ponies have grown leaps and bonds as well.
They have shown a better ability to score since the early parts of the season, and can lean on several different girls to get the job done. HHS will look for an even scoring performance this weekend, hopefully getting solid scoring from Waid, Jaclyn Evans, Sammy Evans, Brandy Lambourne, Peyton Filius and Neya Bischoff in the Paint.
The Ponies and Rustlers will tip off at 4:30 p.m. in Great Falls.