The Minarets Mustangs basketball team (2-4) will play in this weeks 8th Annual Hawk Classic, hosted by Liberty High (3-1). Other teams in the tournament include Firebaugh (3-1), Orange Cove (3-0), Dos Palos (0-1), and Caruthers.
Liberty is averaging 59 points a contest with 6-foot-9 senior Stetson Woods leading the Hawks, averaging 23 points, 19 rebounds, and five blocked shots per game.
The rest of the Hawks team is pretty well balanced with four other players averaging 10 points a game. In their meeting last year, Liberty won 57-43, but the Mustangs stifled Woods throughout the game, limiting the Hawks big man to just nine points.
It will take a great effort from Minarets as the team is struggling early in the season, averaging 45 points a game and coming off a lack luster game against Mariposa last week, losing 61-39 on their home court.
The team's other defeats have been to Orosi (63-47), Sanger (51-29), and Sierra Pacific (67-58), with wins over Arvin (49-44) and Coast Union of Cambria (47-45).
Still in search of a replacement for departed team captain Austin Pimentel, last years point guard who averaged 16 points a game, Minarets must find a way to add more offense.
Along with Pimentel, the Mustangs lost only one other player from last years squad and should be able to rebound and drive the lane with ease.
Returning are seniors Bo Campbell, 6-foot-3 and a force from anywhere on the court who led the team in rebounds last year with 227. Guard Sam Millar, 6-foot-3, lead the league in blocked shots last year (57). .
Although senior Conly Biglione has matured in the paint, he will need to control the boards while blocking out big men this season.. He averaged 12 points a game last year and is expected to improve on those numbers.
Senior Albert Ellis, 6-foot-1, was lost for half the season last year with a knee injury and has been working hard to replace Pimentel at point.
Returning sophomore Mason Ellis's 6-foot-4 frame should give defenders fits on the boards, and rounds out a very capable starting five that should have no problem putting up points when they find their rhythm.
Rounding out the varsity squad are seniors Sam Romero, Connor Reid, and Mitch Pritchett, all three players stand over six feet tall, which should give the Mustangs rebounding numbers even when substituting. Sophomores Caleb Fausone, and Holden Cordel complete the squad.
The Mustangs will play Dos Palos at 4:30 p.m. today (Thursday), in the tournament. Minarets will then play Firebaugh at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Mustangs JV squad, coached by Ron Johnson is 1-0 on the young season after a 51-49 win against Orosi.
Featuring a team of 14, this team is built for speed. Freshman Tre Nicolulis has been working hard all spring and it showed in his first game as he led the team in scoring with 11 points. The squad is a mixture of speed and big bodies for a JV team.