With two very winnable games just around the corner for the Havre High girls basketball team, the Blue Ponies find themselves in a very good position to regain the momentum coming out of the holiday break.
The Central A Ponies are 2-3 overall and 2-0 in conference. They lost to the Great Falls High Bison prior to the short pause in action, but are coming out of the two-week break as the favored team in their next two matchups. HHS will travel to Lewistown to face the conference rival Golden Eagles tonight, and will return home on Saturday to host the Class B Shelby Coyotes at 5 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium.
"Our kids are excited," Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. "They have had two weeks of practice, and it is like the beginning of the season. But they are looking forward to going down to Lewistown and facing Shelby at home, and I think if we play how we have been playing, we will be happy with the results."
Both the Eagles and Coyotes are down this season, but the Ponies know they still have to turn in a good effort to get two wins.
Lewistown is always a tough environment to play in, and the Coyotes have never been known to simply roll over for the Ponies. But with both defenses struggling to come up with key stops, and with both offenses struggling to score consistently, the Blue Ponies should be able to seal the deal in both matchups this weekend.
When the Ponies play well, there aren't many teams they don't have a very good shot at beating. But when the Ponies struggle to keep possession of the ball like they did against the Bison two weeks ago, their chance of winning diminishes. HHS had 24 turnovers against the Bison in a losing effort.
"We worked on some more fundamentals," Kraske said. "I think we went too fast on some things early in the year, so we are trying to pull back a little bit, review and teach, and the kids have done a good job. If we can do one thing better right off the bat, it would be to turn the ball over a lot less. We have emphasized that in practice."
Brandy Lambourne and Peyton Filius have led the Ponies early, but HHS is also getting good production from Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Neya Bischoff, and Lacey Waid. The offense should be able to continue to score from all over the floor this weekend, while the pressure defense and high tempo should wear down the Eagles and Coyotes.
But if the defense doesn't play well, players like Mikaela Olson for the Eagles, and Kayla Leary and Jessica Mahr for the Coyotes could put up decent numbers against HHS. Leary is the leading scorer thus far for the Coyotes, averaging just over nine points per game.
HHS will look to stay undefeated in the conference tonight in Lewistown, while they try for another non-conference win on Saturday in Havre, hosting Shelby at 5 p.m.