The Minarets High boys varsity basketball team (2-19, 0-3 West Sequoia League) played their second home contest on Jan. 16 against the Fresno Christian Eagles (11-10, 2-2 WSL), and for the second time this season, lost in overtime 69-66.
The Mustangs would start off the game slowly due to the Eagles full court press that resulted in 4 Mustang turnovers and a quick 10-2 deficit, but the Mustangs would make a late first quarter rally that would have the Mustangs trailing by just 6, 15-9.
During the second quarter, the Mustangs would close the gap with Gage Sandoval hitting back-to-back 3-pointers followed by a Preston Conti layup to make it a very close game at halftime, Eagles 27-24.
In the 3rd quarter, the Mustangs outscored the Eagles 21-10. A Zack Redman steal and layup would tie the game at 33, and 30 seconds later, a Conti steal and layup would give the Mustangs their first lead of the contest at 35-33. A 3-pointers by Redman and a EG Walden as the third period ended would give the Mustangs their biggest lead of the game, 45-37.
After being down 50-41, the Eagles would come back behind the shooting from Guard Suky Cheema who had 5 3-point shots in the contest. They would narrow the Mustang lead to 53-50 with 1:21 left in the game, but the contest was far from over.
With 59 seconds, the Eagles would intentionally foul Conti, who would hit both free throws to put the Mustangs up by 5. The Eagles would fire right back with a quick three point shot to bring the game to 55-53. Redman would then get fouled and hit both of his free throws to go up 57-53, but Fresno Christian would answer again with another 3-point play to make it a 1 point game with 4 seconds left.
With a Mustang inbounds to Conti, Fresno Christian would intentionally foul and send Conti to the line for 2 more clutch free throws for the 3 point lead and the possible win with only 3 seconds left. As time expired, Eagle Suky Cheema crossed half court line and threw up a shot that hit the backboard and went through the net for the amazing three point play to tie the game at 59 and send the Mustangs into their 5th Overtime game this season.
With the Mustangs in shock the Eagles started overtime with a 6-0 run. Gage Sandoval would sink his season high 5th three-pointer to bring the game to 62-65, but the Eagles would prove to be too much in overtime as the Mustangs would lose another heartbreaker, 69-66.
“Losing a game like tonight hurts. The team gave everything they had on the court,” coach Anthony Pitino said,” I’m really proud of the team effort. In practice and in the games, the coaches have challenged the guys to compete at a higher level. The wins haven’t come yet, but its just a matter of time.”
Conti led the team in scoring with 24 points, followed by Sandoval having a season high 15 points and Redman with 10. Tyson Ellis would lead the team with 9 rebounds.
The loss puts MHS at 0-3 in league and set them up for a Friday game at the league leader Fowler on Friday.
Redcats beat Mustangs 59-48
Last week the Mustangs also lost to league leading Fowler (13-7, 3-0 WSL) last week 59-48.
While normally a slow starting team, the Mustangs would turn up the intensity against the much taller Redcats and surprise the crowd to begin the game with a 10-8 first quarter lead. “We gave up a lot of height against Fowler, but our team plays bigger than they are. This team can play with any team in the league when they choose to,” Pitino said. “This was the best first half of play our team has had this season.” The mustangs would end the half down 22-19 with a Fowler 3 pointer at the buzzer.
The Redcats would begin the second half with a 9-3 run that would give them a 31-22 lead. Sandoval would hit a 3-pointer, and a Conti steal and layup would get the game within 4 points at 31-27, but that was as close as Minarets would get. Mustang shooting would go cold, and Fowler would go on another run to get a 12 point lead at the end of the third quarter.
Minarets could not close the deficit and would end the game with a 59-48 loss.
Conti would lead the team with a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds).
Minarets plays at home at 8 p.m. Friday against Caruthers (9-10, 4-0 WSL).
Minarets High Corespondent