The Minarets High boys Varsity basketball team (3-18, 1-5 West Sequoia League) got their first league win on the road Jan. 26 in Parlier against the Panthers (8-12, 1-4 WSL). Although the overall win/loss season record for the Mustangs is nothing to shot about, they are improving each week.
The Mustangs lost to the Panthers in December by 27 points.
After last second back-to-back losses against Riverdale and Fresno Christian the previous week, the Mustangs finally got the “W” they have been looking for - 41-40 on Jan 24.
The Mustangs would start out fast with a 6-0 run, but turnovers let the Panthers rally right back with a 15-3 run and the lead of 15-9 after the first quarter.
The Mustangs would fight back with EG Walden hitting a 3-pointer followed by 2 free throws to pull the Mustangs within 1 point 20-19. The Panthers would hit a three point shot of their own before halftime to go ahead 23-19 at half.
In the third quarter, Walden would hit two more 3-pointers, the last one at the buzzer to cut the Panther lead to 35-31.
A fourth quarter steal and layup by Preston Conti, followed by another steal and layup by junior Zack Redman would tie the game at 39. An alley-oop from Walden to Conti with 2:03 in the game would put the Mustangs ahead 41-39.
A Panther free throw would bring the game to 41-40. With 5 seconds on the clock and Parlier trailing by 1, the Panther guard would have the ball stripped by Zack Redman to seal the first league victory for the Mustangs.
“Through all the adversity this team has endured, their hearts pulled through in the end for a hard fought win tonight” Coach Anthony Pitino said. “All the things we do in practice, everything we talk about, and all the hard work finally payed off. It was time for us to get a win. The boys deserve it.”
Walden would lead the team with 21 points and 7 rebounds, and Tyson Ellis and Redman would control the boards with 10 rebounds each. Conti added 9 points.
Unbeaten Caruthers wins 46-43
After beating Parlier, the Mustangs lost to the league-leading Caruthers Blue Raiders 46-43 on Jan. 26, a big improvement after losing to them by 23 points on Jan. 9.
The Mustangs would start strong on 4 steals by Conti and 3-pointers by Walden and Skyler Sandoval, and end the first quarter with a 19-11 lead.
But in the second quarter the Blue Raiders outscored the Mustangs 15-5 to go into halftime with a 2 point lead, 26-24.
Caruthers would build a seven point lead with 3:08 left in the third, but the Mustangs would come back to get within 3 at the end of the period.
With 3:14 left in the game, the Mustangs held a 42-41 lead but with about a minute left to play the game was tied at 43 each.
With 28 seconds left, Caruthers hit a 3-pointer to go ahead 46-43. With 9 seconds, the Mustangs had an in-bounds pass broken up by Caruthers. Redman had an opportunity with 1 second left to throw up a three point shot that would hit the backboard and the rim, but not go through the net, giving the Caruthers the three-point win.
Conti finished the game with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 steals. Redman and Walden had 7 and 6 points respectively and Smith contributed 6.
“That was the most physical game we have played all year,” Pitino said. “We are figuring out that with this league being as competitive as it is, every possession means something and your mistakes are magnified. I’m definitely pleased with the progress of our team.”
The Mustangs play at Riverdale tonight (Tuesday) at will host Fresno Chrtistian at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Minarets High Correspondent