In what was expected to be a run at a West Sequoia League title this season is turning into an uphill battle as the Minarets Mustangs (6-10, 1-3 WSL) who dropped two league games last week to fall to last place.
Minarets lost to the Parlier Panthers (4-9, 2-2 WSL) 50-39 on Jan. 17 and to the Caruthers Blue Raiders 58-52 on Jan. 20.
After playing a tight first period and taking a 15-11 lead after eight minutes, the rim seemed to shrink for the Mustangs as they were outscored 13-1 in the second period, going to the break down 24-16.
Both teams came out cold from the break, with Parlier edging the Mustangs 7-5 in the third, for a 31-21 lead going into the final eight minutes of play. The Mustangs had their best period of the game, scoring 18 points, unfortunately they allowed 19, falling to the Panthers 50-39 in a lackluster performance.
Senior Grant Denny led the team in scoring with 11 points, shooting 3 of 10 for 30% accuracy, and Hunter Thompson added another 10 points for Minarets. They were the only players to break into double figures.
Defense was the game for the Panthers as they limited the Mustangs to 12 of 46 for 26% shooting on the evening, and just 3 for 22 from behind the 3-point line.
Thompson lead the Mustangs on the boards with 16 rebounds, nearly half of the team’s 33 total.
Caruthers (6-11, 2-2 WSL) paid a visit to O’Neals Jan. 20, and the Blue Raiders drove the Mustangs further down in the standings, beating them 58-52.
The is no room for error as Minarets prepares to welcome the Cowboys of Riverdale (6-10, 1-2 WSL). Both teams have iden tical records, with the Cowboys holding an advantage having beaten Minarets 48-46 Dec. 2.
On paper Riverdale is averaging 48 points per contest to 47 for the Mustangs. Controlling the boards as well as limiting turnovers will be the difference in this game fort MHS.
Lady Mustangs win one, lose one
The Minarets girls basketball team (8-8, 2-2 West Sequoia League) took on the Parlier Panthers (0-12, 0-4 WSL) Jan. 17 and came away with a 34-23 win.
Senior Kristy Berry led the Mustangs in scoring with 12 points while hauling down 13 rebounds. Sierra Stalter added 11 points and had 7 rebounds as Minarets controlled the boards, finishing with 46 rebounds on the night.
Ellery Meade scored 5 points and recorded 8 rebounds.
Blue Raiders win 57-28
The defending league champion Caruthers Blue Raiders (13-6, 4-0 WSL) traveled to Minarets Jan. 20. Caruthers has never lost to the Mustangs. With a solid youth and travel program the Blue Raiders are the diamond of the West Sequoia League, having won multiple titles while seldom being challenged.
Coach Anna Almedia’s appeals in previous years to remain in D-VI play, have been granted despite winning three straight Central Section titles.
This year, the Blue Raiders were moved up to D-V and demonstrated why they were advanced, with a 57-28 throttling of the Mustangs and their much younger, less experienced squad. After eight minutes of play, the Blue Raiders held a commanding 21-7 lead, and by the half the Mustangs were facing a 35-16 deficit.
Following the break the Blue Raiders put up another 18 points to take a 53-21 lead. Almedia emptied her bench in the final period as the Blue Raiders won 57-28. Berry again led the Mustangs with 15 points.
Riverdale (8-8, 1-2 WSL) and Fowler (13-5, 4-0 WSL) sit in the wings for the Mustangs. The Cowboys and Mustangs are both 8-8 and have played common opponents. The Cowboys do hold a slight advantage in the scoring column, 38 to the Mustangs’ 36 points per game.
On Jan. 31 the Mustangs will visit Fowler. The teams have played each other twice, with Fowler winning both contests, 55-31 Jan. 7 and 49-37 Jan. 10. On a positive note the Mustangs cut the Redcats’ margin of victory in half following the second game.
Berry always plays Fowler tough and could be the difference if she can control the offensive and defensive boards. Taryn Davies is the Fowler’s biggest threat, averaging 15 points per game.
The team is at Fresno christian on Feb. 3.