HAVRE -- The Havre girls basketball team fell short of winning its third straight Class A state title last season, and in the process the Blue Ponies lost the best player in the state to graduation.
But that doesn't mean Havre should be overlooked this year.
Losing a talented senior class can be tough, especially when it's anchored by a player like Kyndall Keller, the Montana Gatorade player of the year during 2019-20 who now stars at the University of Montana.
Coming into a new season, head coach Dustin Kraske isn’t focused on what his team lost. He’s sees opportunities instead.
"We have a senior class now that's excited for their opportunity. And they had the good fortune of growing up with kids above them one grade that were good," Kraske said. "And so they've been sitting on the bench, kind of biding their time. And then now, it's their time. So I'm excited to see what they want to be. I know they're excited to be on the floor. It’s a good opportunity for us."
Instead of deferring to older girls, players like senior Loy Waid and junior Sadie Filius are going to shoulder the scoring load much more than in the past. They know it will take time to adjust to new roles on offense, but the Ponies are already strong in other ways, like effort and chemistry.
"Our man defense should be really good," said Waid. "And just playing together as a team. We do really good with that. It’s not like a one-man show for anyone because we play really good together."
Havre’s immense success over the past few years has created high expectations, and when the games start in January, this squad plans to keep that success going.
"I think the last few years, we've had a target on our back. But we're getting used to it now," Filius said. "And we just play to play, and play our own game. So I think it doesn't bother us anymore."
Havre opens the season Jan. 2 against Lewistown.