By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
Even though the final score of Friday night's game with CMR might not indicate it, the Havre High boys basketball team got back on track.
Havre fell to the No. 2-ranked Rustlers 55-40 at the Havre High gymnasium, but Blue Pony head coach Mark West saw some good things out of his team during the contest.
"Offensively, I thought that we played one of the best games I have seen in three years," West said. "That sounds weird after a loss, but we moved the ball really well, we were patient and we played as a team. We haven't done that for a while."
If the Ponies played well offensively, the first quarter was indicative of how well both teams played defense. The two teams traded baskets throughout the period and CMR held a 10-8 advantage at the end of the first eight minutes.
CMR then broke the contest open in the second period by going inside to Jon Buffington and Don DeGooyer. The Rustlers closed the first half out with an 8-1 run that gave them a 10-point cushion at intermission, 24-14.
"I felt like we were in pretty good shape at the half, because we defended them pretty well," West said. "We were taking good shots on offense, but CMR is so good defensively that those opportunities were really limited and we fell a little behind."
The two teams finally picked up the offensive pace in the third quarter. Havre went on a three-point shot run, including threes from Cory Brothers, Jeremy Giardina and Jared Weigel in the quarter. But it was the Rustlers who were more patient on offense as they continued to pound it inside to Buffington. He scored eight points in the quarter, and despite Havre's hot shooting, CMR still held a 39-31 lead at the end of three quarters.
The third-quarter deficit was as close as the Ponies would get the rest of the way. CMR opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, and Havre could not get any closer than 10 points in the quarter. The Rustlers continued to go inside, which turned out to be the key to the ballgame, according to West.
"CMR is such a physical team and they were just content to pound it in on us," West said. "We gambled and tried to trap a little down low, and it really hurt us because that left a free man and they took advantage of it several times."
"I thought that we played them really tough this time around," West added. "The score may not indicate it, but our kids fought all the way to the end and we didn't give them anything easy in the second half."
Brothers led the way for Havre with 17 points. Buffington scored 16 to lead CMR and Ryan Bagley and DeGooyer added 11 points each in the win.
If Friday night's loss was any indication that Havre was getting back on track offensively, then Saturday's trip to Lewistown was a mere exclamation point. The Ponies blitzed the Eagles for the second time this season, this time earning a 71-39 win in Lewistown.
Havre jumped all over Lewistown in the first quarter, outscoring the Eagles 21-9. The Ponies then continued their torrid shooting pace in the second quarter with 18 more points. Havre held a 39-22 lead at the half.
The third quarter all but did Lewistown in. Havre turned up the defensive pressure and continued to shoot the ball well.
The Ponies scored 24 more points in the third period while holding the Eagles to just six points in the quarter to build a 64-28 lead at the end of three periods. West then turned the game over to his bench to finish the contest off.
"Our offense really continued to click on Saturday," West said. "We continued to have good ball movement and we were making a lot of shots. We also played really good defense. I think that if we would have played as good of defense against CMR as we did against Lewistown, that game might have been different."
Cory Brothers eclipsed his season-high of 36 points with a 37-point outburst on Saturday night. Brothers hot night included eight three-pointers. Tyler Hedalen also poured in 16 points in the blowout.
In all the Ponies made 23 field goals and went a sparkling 14-18 of the free-throw line. The Eagles were paced by Jeremy Olson with 11 points.
"Cory was hot on Saturday night," West said. "He shot the ball as well as he has all season. It was really fun to watch. Tyler Hedalen and Marc Mariani played really well too. Marc had a double-double with assists and rebounds."
Havre (9-5) will be back in action on Tuesday night when it hosts the Chinook Sugarbeeters. Havre will also host Browning on Friday night and then travel to Malta on Saturday.
CMR 55, Havre 40
Havre 8 6 17 9 - 40
CMR 10 14 15 16 - 55
Havre - Marc Mariani 6, Cory Brothers 17, Jeremy Giardina 5, Tyler Hedalen 5, Jared Weigel 7.
CMR - Lonnie Fulp 2, Ryan Bagley 11, Tony Forster 4, Travis Hartman 5, J.R. Buffington 16, Don DeGooyer 11, Greg Gysberg 4, Tanner Lagge 2.
Havre 71, Lewistown 39
Havre 21 18 24 8 - 71
Lewistown 10 12 6 11 - 39
Havre - Patrick Wirtzberger 2, Marc Mariani 7, Cory Brothers 37, Jeremy Giardina 3, Tyler Hedalen 16, Bret Magelssen 2, Jared Weigel 2. Totals: 23 14-18.
Lewistown - Evan Moring 2, Colby Tognetti 2, Bob Goodwyn 4, Jeremy Olsen 11, Brian Jeide 2, Mitch Braine 8, Sam Helmes 2, Kas Miller 8. Totals: 12 14-18.
Three-point goals - Brothers 8, Giardina 1, Olsen 1. Total fouls - Havre 19, Lewistown 16. Fouled out - Magelssen.