The Minarets Mustangs boys basketball team (3-6), hosted Tranquillity (7-3), Dec. 15 in a run-and-gun, fast-paced game which went down to the final buzzer with the Mustangs coming out on top, 61-60.
Coach Paul Varner’s squad opened the game with a quick eight points, and for a moment it appeared that the game might be a blowout. Five minutes later, the Tigers held a 12-10 lead and the Mustangs were struggling to find the hoop. Multiple missed lay-ups and put backs made it a close game throughout.
With 22 seconds remaining and leading 61-57, it appeared the Mustangs would hold off Tranquillity. With eight seconds remaining the Tigers went to the line after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, converting all three free throws to pull to within one point at 61 - 60.
Tranquillity would get the ball back and put up a shot at the buzzer for the win, but the ball bounced off the rim.
Varner named Mason Ellis player of the game for the Mustangs, scoring 24 points to go with his team-leading 14 rebounds. Kaleb Fausone scored 15, and brother Caanin had seven, with James Backmann scoring eight.
Two days later, the two teams met again in the Liberty Hawk Classic tournament. This time it would be the Tigers finishing on top. Building on a 35-31 halftime lead, Tranquillity put the game away in the final period to win 70-56.
The Mustangs played Dos Palos in its second game of the tourney - the score was not reported.
In the third game of the tourney, the Mustangs lost to Yosemite 52-35.
The game was “spirited” to say the least as both squads made some hard fouls. The two teams will square off again at 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at Minarets. The Mustangs will be without the services of Ellis who will be participating in the Annual Blue/Grey Football Classic in Jacksonville, Florida.