The Minarets Mustang basketball team (2-15) ended pre-league play participating in the recent 12-team Mendota Tournament, losing three games, the last a double overtime thriller against Dos Palos.
The Mustangs led by coach Anthony Pitino would fall in all three games, ending with
Minarets, coached by Anthony Pitino, opened the tournament with a 62-35 loss against Parlier (6-7). Christian Varner scored 9 points and Zack Redman had 8.
The second day the Mustangs played a tough game against the tournament host, the Mendota Aztecs (10-6), losing 62-52. EG Walden scored 19 points, Redman added 11 points while Tyson Ellis dominated the boards with 14 rebounds.
In the third and final day of the tournament, the Mustangs would face the Dos Palos Broncos (2-8) in an exciting contest that would result in 14 ties and 13 lead changes during the game.
Starting off with a 14-12 first quarter lead the Mustangs would play strong executing Pitino’s offensive game plan. Strong play in the second quarter would start with forward Walden coming down with a rebound above two Bronco players and putting it back up for 2 points. With 23 seconds remaining in the first half, Ellis would hit a 12 foot bank shot to give the Mustangs a 29-26 lead going into the break.
The game stayed close throughout the fourth quarter. With 5 minutes left in the game, Redman, on a breakaway layup, would get the Mustangs within 2 points at 40-38. Seconds later, Preston Conti sank a shot to tie the game at 40 each.
Following 2 free throws by Dos Palos, Conti would hit a clutch 3-pointer to once again get the Mustangs within 2 with 2:59 remaining to make the game 47-45. Then the Mustangs committed a foul, and on the second Broncos missed free throw Redman would get the rebound and drive the entire floor for a layup tying the game once more at 47.
With 22 seconds left in the game, DP would hit two free throws to go up by 2. After a Mustang time out, what looked like a game-winning 3-point shot by Gage Sandoval at the buzzer was ruled a 2-point shot and the game went into overtime with the teams tied at 49.
The game went into a second overtime period after The Mustang’s Conti grabbed a rebound and made a long pass to Walden for a layup to tie the game at 55-55, sending the game into a second overtime period.
Sandoval and Redman fouled out in the first overtime period.
Dos Palos would go on a 5-0 run to start the period, and would hold the lead until 23 seconds remaining when Conti made a layup to cut the lead to 65-61.
After a Conti free throw to pull the Mustang’s within 3, but DP, with just 5 second left, converted 1 of the 2 free throws to seal the 4 point double overtime victory 66-62.
Conti, a junior, had a double-double and led all scorers with 19 points to go with 10 rebounds. Senior Walden also had a strong game with 16 points and 8 rebounds, and Redman, a junior, also had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Ellis contributed 9 rebounds and 5 points.
“The Mendota Tourney was the last step in the process for preparing for league play. We didn’t get any wins this week, but the experience made us better,” Pitino said. “Our team is back and at full health. I’m ready to start league play on a good note.”
The team travels to Caruthers on Tuesday, Jan. 9 to play its first league contest followed by the team’s first home league game Friday against the Riverdale Cowboys (7-5) at 7:30 p.m., preceded by the JV game.