GREAT FALLS – Inside, outside, it didn’t much matter.
The shots simply weren’t falling for the Capital High girls on Thursday, and the Bruins fell to CMR in the first round of the State AA playoffs at Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, 47-39.
The Rustlers, who had fallen to Capital twice this season, scored the first eight points of the game and had the Bruins on their heels from the tip. The Western Conference’s No. 3 seed made a run late, but the hole was ultimately too deep to escape.
“We weren’t the team we wanted to be. We didn’t play the way we wanted to play today, for whatever reason,” Capital coach Bill Pilgeram said. “But now we have to come out tomorrow and be the team we want to be; be the team we came here to be this week.
“We just couldn’t get any momentum. I thought, yeah, we played on our heels and with a little bit of the play-not to lose type of play. That got us to where we couldn’t get to the point where we were the ones in control of that game.”
Capital finally got on the board with a Taylor Sullivan free throw, and cut the CMR lead in half, but a buzzer-beater put the home team ahead 10-4 at the end of one.
The offensive assault continued early in the second quarter, and when Akasia Denton nailed a trey with 3:01 to play in the half, Russell held a 21-10 advantage.
Capital (14-8) managed to scratch back into it by the break, trailing by only four, 21-17. But an 11-0 run to end the third quarter had CMR (15-6) in control again heading into the final frame, up 35-21.
The advantage eventually stretched to 16, but Capital finally began to find a bit of rhythm. The Bruins began to hit from down low, and the deep ball that had failed them all game was suddenly on target.
The Bruins started putting CMR, content to bleed the clock, on the free-throw line with just under three minutes to play, and twice Capital pulled to within six on Shelby VanHemelryck bombs.
The dagger came after one of those 3-pointers, though.
Capital had the ball down six, with a minute and change to play. But the shot was well off the mark and CMR grabbed the rebound. The Bruins defense seemed to fall asleep, then, and a relay to Addison Gardner resulted in a wide-open layup with 1:14 to play to make it a 39-31 Rustler lead.
The bucket was, in fact, CMR’s first field goal of the quarter, and Capital was never able to recover.
“They just made some plays,” Pilgeram said. “They made a couple shots early on and that got them confident and got them aggressive, and they played like that the whole game. They played a very good game. You’ve gotta hand it to them. They made shots when they needed to make shots and they came out and were the aggressor in that game.”
Denton and Tristin Achenbach led all scorers with 13 points for CMR, while Capital -- which shot just 28.6 percent from the field --got nine apiece from Megan Lindbo and VanHemelryck.
The loss drops the Bruins into a loser-out game at 1:30 p.m. Friday against Billings West, which was blown out by one-loss Missoula Sentinel in Thursday’s late game. The Spartans, meanwhile, will face off against CMR in the semifinals.
“We’ve gotta find out what this team’s made of,” Pilgeram said. “We’re gonna dig deep and show some character, and I know these girls are going to come out tomorrow and be a different basketball team.”