HELENA – The cold carried into the Capital High gym on Thursday night for the boys basketball game.
The Bruins (1-2) labored through a tough shooting night and the C.M. Russell Rustlers (3-1) took advantage en route to a 48-33 win.
“I thought we did a pretty decent job of contesting shots,” CMR coach John Cislo said. “They struggled shooting tonight but I think they had to work for their shots. They had some good looks, too.”
Capital shot 2 of 16 from the 3-point line and 11 of 39 overall for the game. When the Bruins got stops, they couldn’t reward their defense with a string of points. Capital put together one 5-0 run in the fourth quarter when the game was mostly out of hand.
“I thought we got some great looks, to be honest,” Capital coach Guy Almquist said. “I think when we watch the film there will be a lot of things we’re happy with except the fact the ball didn’t go in the rim. Sometimes that's hard to watch because you feel like you’re playing poorly when it doesn’t go in. I think we got some decent shots.”
Sam Vining, who had a game-high 18 points, got the Rustlers going with the five points in the game’s first few minutes.
“He had 15 shots to get his points,” Almquist said. “He worked pretty hard.”
Matt McGinley responded with a bucket and free throws, but over the final four minutes of the first quarter, Capital stalled out until Bridger Grovom, who along with McGinley contributed 10 points on the night, canned a 3-pointer late in the period.
CMR took a 16-11 lead after the first period.
Capital’s shooting woes continued in the second period. The Brown and Gold didn’t prompt the scorekeeper until 10 seconds remained when McGinley scored the lone basket of the quarter for Capital.
The Rustlers outscored the Bruins 13-2 in the quarter and built a 29-13 lead at halftime.
“I thought our kids kind of grinded it out,” Cislo said. “Just kept working hard. I don’t think it was a spurt or anything. It was being consistent on the offensive end, which was good in the first half. Second half we were not consistent. We have to do a better job of that.”
Capital won the third quarter, 12-11, continuing to tighten its defense and ease into the scoring column.
“We’re a team that has to make some shots,” Almquist said. “We don’t have much scoring inside. We’ve got to be good screeners. We’ve got to be offensive rebounders. We’ve got to get to the rim. We have to be able to drive, kick, penetrate, draw fouls going at the rim and make some shots.”
The Bruins did some of those things on Thursday, but not on a consistent enough basis to get back in the game after the slow start. Capital and CMR each scored eight points in the fourth quarter.
“Actually for the most part, other than the first four minutes, I thought our defense was OK,” Almquist said. “They had 48 points. You should be able to win a basketball game when someone scores 48 points in your gym. And we won the rebounding battle, which is a great feat for us.”
Capital outrebounded CMR by five, a statistical positive for the Bruins on a night when the shooting percentages were not in their favor. CMR entered the game with a plus-13 rebounding margin.
“We did some good things, it’s just very hard to see that when the ball never goes in the net,” Almquist said.