Mustang boys at 4-8
The Mustang boys varsity squad (4-8), coached by Paul Varner, is still just above the national average for points scored, 53, while also averaging better then the national average of 25 rebounds per game (28) according to Maxpreps.com.
It is on the Mustangs offensive side of the ball where the struggles have been. The team is well under the average for assists, recording just four a game. Minarets has also been inconsistent at the free-throw line shooting 40%.
With a game scheduled against rival Yosemite Jan. 13 at home, the Mustangs will search for a way to make up for the absence of forward Mason Ellis. The heart and soul of the Mustangs team will be playing in the Annual Blue/Grey Football Game in Jacksonville, Fl.. Although the Badgers beat the Mustangs 52-34 at the Liberty Hawk Invitational Tournament, Ellis had 18 points. He leads the team in nearly all categories, with 196 points and 128 rebounds on the young season.
The Mustangs are coming off a 73-57 loss to the Mariposa Grizzles, and Yosemite lost to the Grizzles last week 70-66. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m, with the JV game at 5:30.
The Mustangs should be at full strength when the team opens league play Jan. 15 against defending league champions Caruthers (8-3). The Mustangs will have possibly two of their toughest games of the season against the Badgers and the Blue Raiders.
Lady Mustangs playing in Parlier tourney
The Minarets High Lady Mustangs basketball team (7-3), will participate in the Parlier Invitational this week with an opening round game scheduled against Riverdale (3-4) Jan. 7. The Cowboys win/loss record is a bit deceiving - they are playing some competitive ball with an eight point loss to Kerman (48-40), and a two point loss to Madera South (49-47).
Surrendering only 39 points per game on average, Riverdale matches up well against a Mustang team that started the season 4-0, but dropped some close games at the Madera Invitational Tournament. In the teams first four wins, the Mustangs controlled the boards, something it has struggled with in the past three games. Against Mariposa, the Mustangs held a commanding 24-9 lead in the closing minutes of the first half, only to have the big lead slip away. The team had to come from behind to win 54-52.
The Parlier tournament will feature Fowler, Firebaugh, Liberty, Kings Christian, Avenal, Minarets, and host Parlier. Having beaten the Redcats 45-30 and Firebaugh 45-28, the Mustangs enter a favorite to advance to the championship game at the Parlier tourney, but they must control the boards early on and play the type of defense Coach Dee Kamalani expects.
The coach has a group of seniors that have played together since middle school, including her daughter Kalea Kamalani,and Danielle Johnson, Patricia Thomasian, Madison Pearson, Delaney Reardon, and Natalie Chamberlain, along with junior center Kristy Berry.
For the Mustangs to win the West Sequoia League title, they will have to fine tune their game before league play. The league title will go through Caruthers (5-4), as the Blue Raiders will defend its back-to-back titles from the last two seasons. After going 13-7 last year, the Mustangs were still unable to compete with a talented Caruthers team, losing both games, 64-40, and 79-31.
Coach Kamalani has a well balanced squad and expects the Mustangs to play to their full capability, playing a hard 32 minutes, while hauling in rebounds and scoring in bunches.
This tourney will be the final tune-up before league play starts, and a great opportunity to send a statement to the West Sequoia league, after struggling playing varsity ball as freshman. And who better to open league play with then the Blue Raiders, Jan. 15, in Caruthers.
“The girls are working well together and building good team chemistry.”Coach Kamalani said. “We are looking forward to our last preseason games and rolling into league play.”