By Kim Staudinger
Unfortunately for the Havre Blue Ponies, basketball games consist of four quarters.
While the Ponies outscored the visiting CMR Rustlers 36-30 in the second half Thursday night, CMR's dominance in the first half was the difference in the game, propelling the Rustlers to a 62-52 win.
The Rustlers took a 16-point lead into the half, mainly due to the hot shooting of senior Justin Hartman. Hartman, who scored a game-high 22 points and four three-pointers, tallied 12 points in the first half.
The Rustlers were playing without sophomore Jason Goodman, who was suspended due to a rules violation, CMR coach Mike McLean said. McLean said he couldn't comment on the violation. He added that it hasn't been decided when Goodman will be allowed to return to the team. The Rustlers also were without sophomore Ryan Bagley, who had knee surgery earlier this week.
Without Goodman, an offensive threat, the Rustlers had to rely on other players to pick up the slack. Sophomore guard Zach Danelson said Goodman's absence had an effect on the team. With all the hype surrounding the situation, the team was somewhat distracted, Danelson said.
"He's one of our family members on the team," he said. "If he's in a bad position, it puts us in a bad position."
Danelson also said the Rustlers had their chances to blow the game wide open, but were unable to do so.
"We just didn't come out ready to play," he said. "We didn't finish our lay-ups, didn't get good shots, didn't rebound. We didn't do the stuff we need to do to win ballgames."
Still, the Rustlers held on for the 10-point victory, nullifying the Ponies' third-quarter rally.
Junior Ryan Lusin (16 points) led the Pony outburst with six points in just under two minutes of play midway through the third, trimming the Rustlers' lead to seven. Lusin added four more points in the quarter, but the Ponies were still down by 12.
The Ponies (3-10) stayed with CMR (10-1) in the fourth quarter, but never drew closer than eight points.
Senior forward Titus Pedraza (team high 17 points) got Havre going in the fourth, opening the quarter with a jump shot from the free-throw line. Nearly two minutes later Pedraza hit consecutive three-point shots, pulling the Ponies to within eight. But Danelson and Royce Fulp answered with back-to-back three-point plays to increase CMR's lead to 14 with 4:13 remaining in the game.
Havre got the score back under 10 with 1:11 left, but the effort fell just short.
Though McLean said Goodman's absence was a factor, Havre's strong performance had a bigger impact.
"It was not a good effort by us, but it was a good effort by them," he said. "We didn't finish lay-ups and didn't rebound well. They must have had a record for blocked shots. They hit some big shots. You have to give them credit."
But coming close does not improve a team's record.
"There are no moral victories anymore," Havre coach Mark West said. "We need the win and hopefully it will be Saturday. We need a road win."
The Ponies go for their fourth win of the season Saturday when they travel to Lewistown to take on the Golden Eagles.
CMR Justin Hartman 22, Tyler Graham 9, Zach Danelson 12, Royce Fulp 3, Mike Murphy 10, Marshall Lagge 6.
Havre Steve Heberly 9, Mike Frey 2, Cory Brothers 5, Kevin Harada 3, Titus Pedraza 17, Ryan Lusin 16.