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Blue Pony boys hit the road

Havre heads to Sidney and Glendive to open the hoops season

 

December 8, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Tanner Parsons and the Havre High boys basketball team play at Sidney and Glendive this weekend in the season-opening games. The Blue Ponies play Sidney tonight, and then travel to Glendive Saturday afternoon.

Last season, the Havre High boys basketball team had the luxury of opening the season at home in the Eastern A Tip-off Tournament. However, this time around, the Blue Ponies will have a long bus ride ahead of them before they will be able to play basketball.

That's because the Havre boys will travel all the way to the eastern border of the state to take on Sidney and Glendive to kick off the 2017-18 season. Havre and Sidney will play tonight at 7 in the first game of the road trip, followed by a game against Glendive Saturday at 3 p.m.

"We got to play at home last season, which was nice," HHS head coach Curt Leeds said. "This year, we have to go on the road and play two good teams. It's going to be a good challenge for us."

The game against Sidney will be a rematch of last season's opener, when the Eagles knocked off the Ponies at the HHS gymnasium 58-53. While Sidney didn't make it to the Class A state tournament in 2017, it did finish as the fourth-place team in the Eastern A with a record of 5-5 in conference play.

One thing that made the Eagles difficult to contend with a season ago was their size and this season, Sidney will also boast some big players inside, namely Bridger Larson, a 6-6 forward who scored seven points against Havre last season. Larson also impressed in the Eagles season-opening win over Wolf Point last week, as he finished with 19 points.

However, Larson isn't the only starter returning for the Eagles this season. Senior guard Alec Lovegren is also back for Sidney after starting last season. Other players who saw varsity action a season ago for the Eagles are Conner Larson (6-3). Max Peters (6-2), Aaron Entz (6-0) and 6-0 sophomore Cooper McGlothlin.

"Sidney has some size coming back," Leeds said. "They have a 6-6 kid, a 6-4 kid, a 6-3 kid. That's going to be their starting lineup and so finding a way for us to matchup against that is going to take some work. That's going to take some really good coaching and listening from the players. It's going to take us doing a lot of different things defensively, but since this is the first game, this will really show us what we need to do going forward since are we going to be smaller."

Going toe-to-toe with the Eagles inside will be tough for the Ponies, who have some size inside with senior Austin Jones and junior Tysen Sangrey, but have nothing like Sidney does in terms of height.

The Ponies certainly don't have anyone that is as big as Larson, who will be a key part of the Eagles offense inside. But with a mix of different looks on defense, Havre will try to do its best to limit his touches.

On the other end of the floor, Havre will be counting on its seniors early in the season to generate offense. That includes Ivar Aageson, who dealt with a shoulder injury all last season, as well as Jacob Irvin and Trey Murphy. Another player who should be in the mix right away on the wing is sophomore Tanner Parsons, as well as junior Austin Delarosa. Laz Windy Boy will be another big factor. He will share ball-handling duties with Aageson, Irvin and Parsons.

During Leeds time as head coach, the Ponies have always relied on 3-point shooting and with the lack of a proven inside scorer, Havre will once again turn to the deep ball.

"I think that's just part of the game now," Leeds said. "I think we have kids that put in time and can really shoot those shots. What need to learn is what is a high-percentage 3-pointer and what is a low-percentage 3-pointer. That's where the coaching and learning can come into play."

Like Sidney, Glendive is also a team that features a slew of players 6-3 and above, including 6-5 senior forward Stephen Steinbron, who was the Rangers leading scorer a season ago. In a loss at divisionals to Livingston last season, he showed off his ability by scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 boards. Glendive also returns fellow seniors Robert Keiser and Lane Walker, who both played significant minutes a year ago.

Havre will open its season tonight against Sidney at 7. Havre and Glendive will play Saturday in a non-conference tilt, which is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

 

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