By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Two seniors will say farewell to the Blue Pony Corral and the loyal Havre fans tonight, as Tiffany Shrauger and Erin Patera play their last regular-season game.
The Blue Ponies will face Eastern AA powerhouse C.M. Russell Rustlers at home tonight, with the Blue Ponies looking to avenge an earlier-season loss.
When the two met at Great Falls on Sept. 30, CMR snapped a seven-game Havre winning streak with a 42-31 win.
For the first time all season, no Blue Pony was in double figures scoring.
The two senior leaders, Shrauger and Patera, had nine and eight points, respectively, to lead the Ponies.
One of the things is that weve got to control their transition game, said head coach Dennis Murphy. We need to make them run their half-court offense and make them shoot the ball on the perimeter.
Senior Nichole Neill led CMR with 12 points, followed by Mary Lester who chipped in 10.
Havre, in an uncommon role, shot an embarrassing 17 percent from the free throw line in the last matchup, and contributed to a two-team total of 50 turnovers in the game.
Theyre going to run, Murphy said about the Rustlers. Theyre going to get out and get some transition points. Thats how they beat us last time. They had too many uncontested shots and too many layups, so we have to get back on defense.
The Rustlers are comingin on a two-game loss, most recently, last Thursday, when the Rustlers fell to crosstown rival Great Falls High 59-51.
Havre is coming off a 45-40 loss to top-ranked Class B Malta.
Shrauger is back on track offensively for the Blue Ponies. Since last Tuesday, she has scored a team-high 15, 20, and 13 points, respectively.
Patera has been key defensively for the Ponies, and is No. 2 on the team with 96 rebounds this season.
She has also been even offensively throughout the year, putting together a 15-point offensive effort three weeks ago at Fort Benton.
Weve got these kids who have been in the program for four years and who have worked hard to put themselves in an elite group of kids, Murphy said. As freshmen, there were probably 23 of them, now there are just two. They are a pretty good group who have gone through the program.
Junior Alyssa Matter has also been a constant for the Blue Ponies. She tallied 10 points Saturday at Malta, and is ranked ninth in the league in rebounding with 105 on the year.
Nikki Baltrusch, a junior, has been impressive on the floor during the tail end of the regular season.
Baltrusch leads the Central A in assists, averaging 7.8 per game. She has been a key player defensively, also.
Five-foot-10 sophomore Jeri Matter chipped in nine points at Malta Saturday. Matter has tallied 75 rebounds for the Blue Ponies this season, and has the height for an inside game.
Havres bench has also been a strength this season.
Junior Sam Velk has stepped into a varsity role for the Ponies and can shoot the ball from the outside.
Sophomore Amy Ranes has been a spark off the bench, pulling down key rebounds and notching the put-back points.
Sophomore Jayla McPherson poured in a season-high 15 points for the Ponies against Browning Friday.
LaShae Michaels and Breyon Briese also scored against Browning.
Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. with parents and seniors being honored.