By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High girls basketball team was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class A basketball when the weekend began. But HHS veteran head coach Dennis Murphy knew that it would be difficult to remain that way given the two teams that his Ponies were up against Friday and Saturday night.
As a result of being completely outsized inside, the Ponies were unable to stop the CMR Rustlers' inside game on Friday night as they fell 71-53 in Havre. The Ponies also dropped a 65-45 road decision to Central A rival Lewistown on Saturday night.
On Friday the Ponies welcomed the Class AA third-ranked Rustlers to town. Murphy knew heading into the game that the Rustlers' size would play a key factor in the outcome.
It did not take long for that factor to come into play as CMR's 5-10 center Joslin Swartz got off to a hot start for the Rustlers, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. Six of Swartz's first-quarter points came off of offensive rebounds. Despite her efforts, the Ponies kept pace with the Rustlers behind six points from Steph Flatau. Havre trailed 16-14 at the end of the period.
The two-point deficit got a little bigger in the second quarter as Swartz continued to sizzle and the Rustlers opened the quarter on a 8-0 run. Justine Erhard's three-pointer with a minute to go in the half kept the Ponies in the contest, but CMR still led 33-23 at the break.
Swartz scored 18 points in the first half and had six rebounds. Murphy saw her play as the main reason the Rustlers were able to build a lead on Havre in the first half.
"Swartz got them off to a great start," Murphy said. "I thought our kids played really well in the first half and they worked really hard to try to defend their post players. But Swartz and (Erin) Goodman are great players and they just had us completely outsized."
The Ponies opened the third quarter with an Alexa Lipp three-pointer that put them within seven points. But Swartz went right back to work, scoring a couple of quick baskets that got the lead back to double digits. Alicia Overcast scored two straight buckets to again put Havre within seven points, but the Rustlers went on an 11-3 run after that. They led 51-40 heading into the fourth period.
CMR also went on a 10-2 run midway through the fourth quarter to end any hopes of a Havre comeback.
"CMR played great defense on us in the second half," Murphy said. "They are a tough team for us to come back on because we had expended so much energy trying to defend them and battle for rebounds.
"But it wasn't our effort or how we played that got us beat tonight," Murphy added. "The girls played hard from start to finish and they battled all the way to the end. We made CMR have to work to beat us tonight and in they end they got it done."
In the end, the duo of Swartz and Goodman did Havre in. Swartz led all scorers with 24 points, including a 10-for-16 performance from the field. Goodman chipped in with a quiet but effective 19 points. The Ponies were paced by Jolene Fuzesy's 15 points. Overcast also had a fine all-around game with 14 points, while Flatau added 11 points .
Saturday night the Ponies ran into a familiar foe in Lewistown and had what's recently become a familiar outcome. Havre fell victim to a very hot start by the Eagles, who scored 15 points in the first quarter. In contrast the Ponies managed just four points in the game's first eight minutes. Despite outscoring the Eagles 17-13 in the second quarter to trail 28-21, Havre could not get past the early deficit created in the first quarter.
The second half saw the Eagles turn the offensive pressure up a notch as they scored 18 points in the third quarter and another 19 in the game's final stanza. In all the Eagles outscored the Ponies 37-24 in the second half to cruise to the 20-point victory.
The Ponies got a game-high 23 points from Fuzesy, including three three-pointers. Steph Flatau chipped in with nine points. The Eagles were led by Lesly Richter's 17 points. Alicia Carpenter and Shaylynn Conroy added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Havre (4-2) will be back in action Jan. 2 when the team hosts the Browning Indians. The Ponies will travel to Malta on Jan. 3.
CMR 71, Havre 53
CMR 16 17 18 20 - 71
Havre 14 9 17 13 - 53
CMR - Ashley Wilkinson 2-5 0-0 5, Erin Goodman 7-14 4-4 19, Jessica Frank 1-2 0-0 3, Joslin Swartz 10-16 4-4 24, Shelbi Danelson 1-5 1-2 3, Kassie Holmland 1-4 1-4 3, Shantell Marquis 2-6 0-0 4, Nicole Hartman 3-4 0-0 6, Whitney Riehl 2-2 0-4 4. Totals: 29-58 10-15 71.
Havre - Alicia Overcast 6-9 1-2 14, Amy McLain 0-0 2-2 2, Steph Flatau 3-13 4-7 11, Alexa Lipp 2-6 1-4 6, Justine Erhard 1-3 0-0 3, Jolene Fuzesy 4-9 7-7 15, Whitney Barnekoff 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 17-42 15-22 53.
Total fouls: CMR 17, Havre 14. Fouled out: none. Three-point goals: Wilkinson, Frank, Goodman 1, Overcast, Flatau, Lipp, Erhard 1.
Lewistown 65, Havre 45
Havre 4 17 11 13 - 45
Lewistown 15 13 18 19 - 65
Havre - Alicia Overcast 2, Amy McLain 4, Steph Flatau 9, Alexa Lipp 7, Jolene Fuzesy 23. Totals: 17 7-12.
Lewistown - Brenda Bassett 6, Sonya Rogers 6, Shaylynn Conroy 10, Alicia Carpenter 11, Lesly Richter 17, Lauren Tognetti 5, Kayla Horacek 4, Kayla Rettig 6. Totals: 26 8-18.
Total fouls: Havre 14, Lewistown 14. Fouled out: None. Three-pointers: Lipp 1, Fuzesy 3, Rettig 2, Carpenter 2, Rogers 1.