The Minarets Mustangs girls basketball team, (3-9, 0-1 WSL) lost their season opener 70-20 to the Caruthers Blue Raiders (11-6, 1-0) last week as they entered West Sequoia League play. The Blue Raiders showed the Mustangs why they are favored to win league this season after coming up one win short last year.
Caruthers jumped out to a 21-10 first period lead and led 39-16 going into the half. The Blue Raiders cruised the rest of the game, substituting heavily, for a 60-34 win.
The Mustangs pulled down 43 rebounds in the game but shot just 24% from the field. Sophomore Kelea Kamalani lead the team in scoring with 11 points. Danielle Johnson and freshman Kisten Berry contributed six points each. Junior Madison Mead added five, Lina Rapp four, and senior Marissa Dodd rounded out the scoring with two.
Jan. 17 the Mustangs took on a dominating Immanuel Eagles team, 7-5, in what was expected to be a lopsided victory against the well seasoned Eagles. Immanuel's fast break game, along with a staggering defense, proved too much for the younger Mustangs squad. The Eagles commanded the game early, going up by 19 points in the opening period and never looked back, winning 70-20. With the schools dropping enrollment numbers due to the economy, Immanuel has dropped a few notches in other sports, but in basketball, the Eagles have remained a force to recon with.
Last summer the private Christian school put together a marketing team and spent several thousand dollars on bill boards along the 99 Freeway promoting the school. The plan worked as the school received several students transfers from the Fresno and Clovis area that had immediate impact on their sports programs. The small school plays in the Central Sequoia league and is expected to challenge for a title this year in not only girls basketball, but all sports.
The young Mustangs didn't come away with a win but coach Janeene Bebout is doing her best to develop each player on the team. With heavy substitution all the girl on the team are getting playing time. Sophomore Johnson led the team in scoring with seven points, Kamalani and Berry added four points each.
The Mustangs look to even their league record as they play host to the Parlier Panthers, at 0-11, the team is still in search of it's first win on the season but don't expect it to come at the hands of Minarets. The Mustangs are scoring twice as many points per game as Parlier. The girls Mustangs might just be the surprise team of the league this year after tying their win record from last year as league play begins. Sophomore Patricia Thomasian is still looking to regain last years form as a force on the boards as well as a inside scorer. The team is shooting a low percentage but those numbers should improve as they enter into league play. Last year the team averaged 19 points per game, this years team, 39.
The team has solid players, made up of mostly underclassmen, but all capable of putting points on the board, its having all of them shoot well in the same game that has been the struggle. Johnson leads the team with 10 points per game average, with Kamalani good for eight per game.
Jan 31 the Mustangs travel to Fowler to take on the 3-12 Red Cats. This is not last years league winning team. Look for this game to be a tightly fought battle and a good representation of where the Mustangs will place in league play.