By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The final score reeked of deception in Eastern AA C.M. Russell's 68-50 win over the Central A Havre Blue Ponies in non-league action Thursday at Great Falls.
The Rustlers took an immediate 7-0 lead, but, after a Blue Pony time out, Havre took control.
"After that time out, we came out and played very well," said Dennis Murphy, Havre head coach. "We were taking good shots. We weren't standing around defensively. We did a really nice job."
With 1:28 remaining in the first quarter, the Ponies were up by seven points, but an 8-2 CMR run late in the quarter left the Ponies up by one point to end the quarter.
Even scoring throughout the second quarter left the Ponies hanging on to a one-point lead going into the locker room.
"We knew CMR was capable of scoring fast," Murphy said.
In the second half, Havre's 29 percent field goal shooting wrote the chapter.
Ricky Brown, who scored a season-high 29 points, did not even score in the final quarter of play.
"We shoot 29 percent in the second half, and we don't handle their defensive pressure as well as we did in the first half," Murphy said. "We had some easy shots we couldn't get to go in for us."
At the end of the third quarter, CMR's Justin Hartman popped a 3-pointer, lifting the Rustlers to a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Rustlers connected on six free throws and one 3-pointer in the final minutes to seal the victory.
"They are a good team," Murphy said. "We played well for about 22 minutes last night."
Senior Nate Baltrusch joined Brown in double figures with 10 points. Baltrusch went to the free throw line 12 times, including four free shots on CMR technical fouls, while Brown went 10-for-11 from the line.
Havre's inside game, in Landen Grant and Cliff Cooper, combined for just 2-of-16 shooting from the field.
CMR outrebounded the Blue Ponies 39-16 on the defensive board.
"I know we are improving, but it's hard to see that and understand that if we can't get some wins," Murphy said. "I would sure like to win some games and still see that we are improving."
The Ponies (4-6) have gone just 1-for-5 during the past six games.
"We are halfway through the season, and we will continue to improve," Murphy said. "Our league is wide open and these games won't mean a lot at the end of February. Our kids need to keep their heads up and know they are improving. There are a lot of teams who wouldn't be four and six playing our schedule."
The Blue Ponies, who have this weekend off, will host the Chinook Sugarbeeters on Thursday, Jan. 20.
"We are going to prepare like crazy for them," Murphy said. "We need to get a win."
Havre High -- Nate Baltrusch 2-7 6-12 10; Ricky Brown 8-14 10-11 29; Landen Grant 2-13 0-0 4; Ryan Fink 2-5 1-2 5; Cliff Cooper 0-3 0-0 0; Jesse Suek 0-1 0-0 0; Chris Young 0-0 0-0 0; Nick Crawford 0-0 0-0 0; Scott Rice 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 15-45 17-25.
CMR -- Justin Hartman 5-16 2-2 15; Landon Danelson 5-9 0-0 10; Mike Schmidt 4-8 1-4 9; Mitch Hatzenbeller 8-12 1-2 18; Jason Goodman 1-2 3-6 5; Mike Murphy 1-1 0-0 2; Zach Danelson 0-2 3-6 3; Ryan Seltzer 1-1 0-0 3; Tyler Graham 0-0 3-4 3; Brad Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-51 13-24.
Total fouls: Havre, 20; CMR 20. Fouled out: L. Danelson, Schmidt, Cooper. Technical fouls: L. Danelson, Schmidt.
Three-pointers: Havre 3 (Brown 3); CMR 5 (Hartman 3, Hatzenbeller, Seltzer).
Rebounds: Havre 20 (Grant 7, Baltrusch 5); CMR 43 (Goodman 10, L. Danelson 7, Hartman 6, Schmidt 5).
Turnovers: Havre High 18, CMR, 20.