By Tiffany L. Rehbein
In an ending that was anything but storybook, the Havre Blue Ponies girls basketball team had no scorers in double figures and tallied just 31 points, the lowest offensive effort all season, as they fell to the C.M. Russell Rustlers 42-31 at the CMR Fieldhouse Thursday.
I think that if anybody had told me CMR would play that bad, I would have told them we would have won by 15, said head coach Dennis Murphy.
Havre sophomore Jeri Matter scored the first basket of the game with 6:10 remaining in the first quarter to lift the Ponies to a 2-0 lead. Matter finished with four points and seven rebounds in the effort.
In a game that boasted 50 total turnovers, CMR managed four turnovers and just one set of free throws in the first two minutes of play. They notched 28 turnovers in the contest.
CMR was definitely off their game and we didnt take advantage of that, Murphy said.
However, with 4:10 remaining, the Rustlers tallied nine unanswered points and hit a shot at the buzzer to lead 13-10 after one quarter.
Matter and senior Erin Patera shared first quarter scoring responsibilities combining for all 10 points.
I thought Erin did a good job on the boards last night, Murphy said. Patera had a team-high nine in the effort.
In the second, CMR outscored the Ponies 12-10 to take a 25-19 lead into the locker room.
We just cant walk out on the floor and expect to win, Murphy said. We need to walk out prepared mentally and physically.
Senior Tiffany Shrauger, who finished with a team-high nine points, added four in the second, while juniors Nikki Baltrusch and Alyssa Matter added four and Patera chipped in two. Patera tallied eight in the match-up.
The third quarter was a miss-fest from the outside for both teams as Havre outscored the Rustlers 5-4.
The Blue Pony defense choked the Rustlers inside play, forcing the ball to the perimeter, where the Rustlers struggled, shooting 16-of-44 in the game.
But the Blue Ponies were not much better, shooting just 27 percent from the field in the contest.
The Ponies were outrebounded 41-29 in the contest, with easy box-out situations coming for the Rustlers who played a tight man-to-man defense.
As poorly as both teams shot, we should have had a lot of rebounds, Murphy said.
Up 29-24 going into the fourth, CMR scored first to widen the gap, 31-24. Havres Alyssa Matter immediately responded and hit the first and only 3-pointer of the game to bring the Ponies within four points. Matter finished with a season-low six points in the contest and had eight rebounds in the contest.
For more than three minutes, neither team scored until CMRs Hillary Taylor hit two and Nichole Neill hit another to lift the Rustlers to a 35-27 lead.
Patera and Shrauger were to score again, but CMR hit 3-of-5 free throws in the final seconds to sew up the victory.
Havre shot an embarrassing 2-for-12 from the free throw line. Alyssa Matter and Shrauger notched the two free shots.
We shot 17 percent from the foul line, so whoever was guarding us there did a good job, Murphy said.
Second-ranked Havre slipped to 7-2 overall while Class AA CMR is 4-3.
Our mind is not on basketball right now, Murphy said. We really could have helped ourselves with the win last night. We could have pulled the door shut on some people and we didnt take advantage of it.
In other Central A action Thursday, Browning (7-1) defeated District 1-B Cut Bank 68-46 while Belgrade notched a surprise victory over top-ranked Class B Manhattan 46-25.
The Blue Ponies will rest this weekend and will face the Class B Chinook Sugarbeeters (4-2 overall) Tuesday at the Blue Pony Corral.