Havre boys basketball ready to build off state appearance
Last updated 12/1/2022 at 10:13am
Last season saw immense growth for the Havre High boys basketball team. After finishing the regular season with a losing record, the Blue Ponies went on a run at Eastern A Divisionals to qualify for the state tournament where they won a game against Frenchtown.
Heading into this season, HHS head coach Walynn Burgess expects his team to have similar growing pains. But just like last season, he expects the Ponies to improve over the course of the season and find their stride in time for the postseason.
"We're just really excited about what's going to be happening here moving forward," Burgess said. "You're going to take your lumps with a young team and you're going to learn a lot but I think this team's got a lot of good energy about them and I think they will really enjoy being around each other."
Xavier Butler returns for the Ponies after earning second-team all-conference honors and helping lead the team to an appearance in the state tournament last season. Burgess also expects returning players such as Shane Patascil and Tre Gary to build off last season and help the Ponies succeed this winter. Crawford Terry will bring experience as a senior while Jevin Jenkins should be a playmaker with his size.
The Ponies will have some new players getting more time on varsity this season. Burgess believes young players such as Carter Spangler, Jackson Headdress and Reid Kato have put in work in the offseason and are ready to show that on the court. Burgess also believes sophomore Matt Huse has grown his game and should make an impact this season. With this many skilled players on the roster, Burgess believes contributions can come from anyone on any given night.
"It could be one day this group of kids that are good and one day it's this group so it's just going to be breeding a lot of good competition," Burgess said. "So far, we're really liking what we're seeing out of that."
The Ponies will have many opportunities for improvement this season with the games on their schedule. The Ponies start the season this Friday with a game against Laurel on the Montana State University-Northern campus. The following weekend, the Ponies will have a tough road game at Billings Central.
The Ponies will get their season started in the Northeast A with road games against Glendive and Sidney. They will then return to Havre to play Malta in their first game at Havre High Gymnasium this season. On Dec. 22, the Ponies will wrap up 2022 with a conference game against Lewistown on the road.
The Ponies open 2023 with back-to-back home games against Miles City and Hardin. They will then head on the road to face Fairfield. Then Jan. 14-21, the Ponies will have three straight home games against Browning, Glendive and Sidney.
After a road game against Malta, the Ponies will head to the Metra to face Lewistown to wrap up January. Then in the Ponies' final four games of the regular game, they will face Miles City, Hardin and Browning on the road and Fairfield in their final home game. With all these games throughout the season, there will be plenty of opportunities for the Ponies to improve.
"We know that we can score. We've proven that the last few years but now it's time to start really focusing on becoming a better defensive team," Burgess said. "So we're going to hang our hats on being a better defensive team and be the best defensive team we can be by February."
The Ponies will begin the Eastern A Divisionals Feb. 21 at the Metra in Billings. If the Ponies are playing well and go on a run, they will find themselves in the Class A State tournament in Bozeman starting March 8.
"The kids have a different demeanor and a mindset about them day in and day out. They tasted it being on the state floor last year and they know they want to get back there again," Burgess said. "We're going to make ugly mistakes and it's early season basketball but we know that we've got to keep getting better so that when we do step on that divisional floor at the end of February that we give ourselves the best chance to go and play in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman in March."
The HHS boy's basketball team will begin its season this Friday at 6 p.m. against Laurel at the Armory Gymnasium on the MSU-Northern campus.