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Back to the Hardwood: HHS boys home to host GFH, Malta


January 3, 2014

Daniel Horton

Havre High senior Jon Faber takes a shot during a boys basketball game back in December in Havre. The Blue Ponies host the Class AA Great Falls High Bison tonight at 7 in the annual battle for the Ole Goat.

Restarting the season after a short holiday break, the Havre High boys basketball team has two very tough non-conference home games waiting for them this weekend.

After four games leading up to the break the Central A Blue Ponies went 2-2 overall and 1-1 in league play. But the nonconference portion of the schedule will once again test the Ponies tonight and Saturday night at the Havre High gymnasium in Havre.

Tonight, the Ponies host the Class AA Great Falls High Bison (2-2) at 7. Saturday night the Ponies host the Class B Malta Mustangs (3-1) at 6:30 p.m.

Hosting the Bison tonight, Havre High knows it has a tough outing ahead. The Bison can retain the Ole Goat Trophy, which is the traveling trophy the Bison and Ponies compete for, with a win tonight in the HHS gymnasium. Havre hasn’t held the trophy since 1992. GFH can put up huge numbers on offense and can pester a team with their athletic ability and size on defense. The Bison are led by 6-3 freshman Brendan Howard, who is already a standout this season — but so is Mathew Wyman, both capable of double-double efforts. But the Bison are deep with the likes of Cody Torgerson, Jake Wetzel and Lester Johnson.

The Ponies know they have to play more physical than the Bison, as well as dominate the boards. The Ponies can’t afford to allow multiple scoring opportunities on GFH rebounds, and they have to slow the Bison down in transition.

“We aren’t a small team ourselves,” Havre High head coach Curt Leeds said. “So I think we just have to play a little more physical than they do. I am also expecting Great Falls to come out in a zone, so we need our kids to step up and be more ready to shoot. We have talked about getting more scoring from our guards to help open up the floor.”

If Nate Rismon, Jonathan Faber and Brian Smith can score from outside against the zone, things should open inside for Kade Rismon and Jase Kato. Things will also open up for Dane Warp, as he has averaged a double-double in each game this season, but has also garnered more and more defensive attention.

But if the Ponies can open things up on offense tonight, it will pay dividends on Saturday night as well. But more importantly, the Ponies are stressing the fact that they have to play physical this weekend, especially against an undersized Malta team. A win on Saturday will mean a season sweep over the Mustangs.

Malta does have some athletes in Zach Handley, Jeremy Costin, and Allen Williamson, but the Ponies should be too tough to handle at home.

“We need to prove that we are a physical team,” Leeds said. “We are a bigger team, but we need to play like it. We will look to slow down the tempo against Great Falls, but against Malta, we will look to speed things up with our aggressive defense and size.”

Typically, the Ponies look to play inside out. With their size advantage, Kade Rismon, Kato, and Warp should have big games.

A 2-2 start to the season, 1-1 in league, has the Ponies near the top of the Central A to this point. But after a short break in action, the Ponies are hoping what they did at practice this past week can propel them into the rest of the season with more success.

“We had some competitive practices and we fine tuned some things,” Leeds said. “We also put in some things on the offense and defense, so I think it was a pretty good break. It came at a good time, we played four games and got a feel for things, and then we got to fine-tune. Four games gave us a good start to the season, but now we are ready to get after it again after working on some things.”

Tonight at the Havre High gymnasium, the Ponies will host Great Falls High at 7. Saturday night the Ponies will host Malta at 6:30 p.m.


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