By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Strap on your helmets, girls, youre going to Great Falls.
The Havre Blue Ponies girls basketball team should be ready to look forward to a physical, up-beat game against C.M. Russell Thursday in Great Falls.
The Class A Blue Ponies (7-1) travel to Eastern AA CMR (3-3) in a cross-class match-up at the CMR Fieldhouse.
Both teams are coming off a weekend of wins.
Havre handed two teams their first loss of the season during the course of last week. They first downed Browning on the road 58-47 in conference play. Saturday, the Ponies met the District 2-B Malta M-ettes at Havre and defeated them 47-46 in overtime play.
CMR, who has had a rocky start this season, defeated two Eastern AA Billings teams, West and Senior, during the weekend. Friday, they downed West 71-66 and Saturday they came from behind to win 56-54 over Billings Senior.
The Blue Ponies have been successful through even team scoring and choking defensive pressure.
Junior Alyssa Matter led the Blue Pony attack Saturday against Malta with 13 points. She tallied 13 against Browning, including two three-pointers.
Against CMR rival Great Falls High earlier this year, Matter ravaged the Bison with 13 rebounds and a season-high 23 points.
At this time, Matter has a 51 percent field goal percentage to lead the Blue Ponies.
Senior Tiffany Shrauger has managed double figures in every Havre game up to this point and leads the team with 106 total points on the year.
Sophomore Jeri Matter, who hit the game-winning free throw against Malta, scored a season-high 18 points against Browning.
Five-foot-2 scrappy junior Nikki Baltrusch led the Ponies with seven rebounds against Malta, collecting them on the weak side. Baltrusch hit the critical 3-pointer that sent the Malta game into overtime Saturday.
Senior Erin Patera has been a tough defensive threat. Patera held strong M-ette Leeann Pekovitch to just eight points Saturday. Patera scored a season-high 11 points Friday at Browning.
Havres bench has also proven they can play. Sophomores Jayla McPherson and Amy Ranes have each stepped into varsity action and played strong for the Blue Ponies.
Ranes is 4-for-4 from the free throw line in varsity action and has 22 total rebounds on the season.
McPherson sparked the Ponies from the bench and connected from the free throw line and pulled down some crucial rebounds.
The Rustlers, traditionally a tough home team, are led by frontcourt player Hillary Taylor and senior center Mary Lester. Taylor scored 18 and 14 points, respectively, during the Billings games, while Lester chipped in 19 and 14 points Friday and Saturday.
Both Havre and CMR will each look to play a tough half- and full-court pressure defense.
If we had football helmets, wed have to have chin straps, head coach Dennis Murphy said about the Rustlers team. I think they are one of the better teams in the AA. Theyve just struggled a bit lately.
CMR can also put its girls into double figures offensively. Jana Walsh and Nichole Neill proved to be tough offensively against Billings West when they tallied double digits. However, they were quiet the following night.
The freshman will tip off at 4 p.m. at the Westside Elementary School, with varsity action beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the CMR Fieldhouse.