After a win last Friday to finish the regular season tied for second in the West Sequoia League, the Minarets High basketball team (12-9, 6-4) received the No. 1 seed in the Central Section Division V playoffs. After two byes this week, the Mustangs will play at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at home against the winner of the Laton (9-17, 5-7) Northwestern Christian (11-6, 5-0)) game. The winner of that game will advance to the championship game at 4 p.m. March 1 at Selland Arena.
This could very well be a coming out party for Minarets athletics this year, after celebrating a Division V sectional title in volleyball and now, in just their fourth season of basketball, the Mustangs reach the playoffs.
After losing to Caruthers earlier in the week, the Mustangs stampeded over the Riverdale Cowboys (4-13, 1-9) 82-56 Feb. 15 as a final tune-up before the playoffs. The Mustangs jumped out in front early with a 45-22 halftime lead.
Junior Conly Biglione, fighting off the flu, managed to score 24 points grab six rebounds in limited playing time.
Senior Craig Talbot added eight points, freshman Mason Ellis had nine while grabbing 11 rebounds and Ben Nelson had five points.
The boards are where the Mustangs have stepped up in recent weeks, out rebounding their opponent by an average of 10 a game. Junior Bo Campbell leads the league in rebounding, averaging 10.8 per game. He had 11 rebounds last Friday and added 13 points. Junior Sam Millar had 15 rebounds as the Mustangs dominated under the glass throughout the game. He also added nine points and had a couple blocked shots. He leads the league in blocked shots with 2.7 per game.
Even with senior point guard and the team's leading, Austin Pimentel sitting the entire third quarter with a bruised knee, Riverdale had no answer in slowing down the Mustangs. Pimentel scored 13 points on the evening and finished league play leading in several categories including steals (6 per game), assists (5 per game), 3-pointers (4 per game) and scoring (22 points per game). He is third in free throws made (54 of 78, 69%).
The Mustangs have three players in the top five in assists in the league end of season stats.
Coach Paul Varner likes his chances entering the playoffs.
"We can't worry about what other teams bring to the tournament, we just need to focus on preparation, execution and effort," Varner said. "We set some goals for the season, one being to win league. We feel a bit short going 6-4 but I was proud of our effort."
Pimentel, a sure all-league selection, will have his first chance at play-off action.
"As long as we keep up our intensity, we can play with anyone," Pimentel said. The Mustangs JV team finished the season with a win against the Cowboys and will be sending three players, Bubba Ward, Sam Delk and Holden Cordle, up to varsity for the playoffs.
The lady Mustangs (1-13, 0-6), lost to Riverdale 58-21 and to Caruthers 64-16 on Feb. 12. Maddy Pierce scored 10 for the Mustangs.
Finale WSL standings
Caruthers: 9-1 (19-7)
Minarets: 6-4 (12-9)
Fresno Christian: 6-4 (12-13)
Fowler: 5-5 (8-14)
Parlier: 3-7 (7-18)
Riverdale: 1-9 (4-19)
Division V seeding
Overall and league win/loss record - school enrollment):
No. 1, Minarets (12-9, 6-4) - 425.
No. 2, Tranquillity (9-13, 5-5) - 480.
No. 3, Immanuel, Reedley (7-18, 0-10) - 450.
No. 4, Laton (9-17, 5-7) - 200.
No. 5, Northwestern Christian, Bakersfield (11-6, 5-0) - 28.
No. 6, Kings Christian, Lemoore (11-10, 3-7) - 80.
No. 7, Paramount Bard, Delano (4-17, 2-8) - 300.