Minarets win one, lose one

The Minarets Mustangs boys varsity basketball team (6-12, 2-3 West Sequoia League), had 19 fouls and committed 14 turnovers which proved too much to overcome the Riverdale Cowboys (10-7, 4-3 WSL) Jan. 26, losing 61-51.

Minarets had an 18-13 lead following the first period in a run and gun tempo game. The Cowboys closed the gap in the second, going to halftime trailing 25-20.

Riverdale worked the paint, drawing 19 fouls, resulting in 19 points. That would prove to be the downfall of Minarets as Coach Paul Varner’s team went to the line just eight times in the game.

After dominating the first half, it was all Cowboys in the final two periods as they converted high percentage shots in the paint to keep the Mustangs at bay. Riverdale outscored the Mustangs 41-26 in the second half.

Mason Ellis had 16 points for the Mustangs and Varner named him “Player of the Game.” Senior Kaleb Fausone added 14 points, and junior Michael Rendon was two for three from behind the arc. The Mustangs converted just three of 19 from 3-point range (33% overall shooting on the night), and committed 14 turnovers.

The two teams played Dec. 1 in a preseason tournament with the Cowboys winning 41-36.

Looking to get back in the win column Minarets traveled to Fresno Christian (5-16, 1-4 WSL) It appeared to be a blowout early on as the Mustangs built a 25-7 lead after the first quarter. But the Mustangs like to push the ball, using little of the 35-second shot clock, the Mustangs turned the ball over multiple times allowing the Eagles to climb back into the game. Fresno Christian outscored Minarets 19-17 in the second quarter as the teams went to the break 42-26.

Fresno Christian erupted for 23 points in the third quarter, holding the Mustangs to 12, with Minarets holding a three point lead at 52-49.

In the fourth quarter the Mustangs continued their run and gun style of play, using little time off the shot clock as the two teams traded baskets and turnovers.

Fresno Christian was forced to go to the foul game as the clock ran down in the fourth. Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Mustangs secure their sixth win on the season.

Varner selected Reardon “Player of the Game” as he helped the Mustangs with 14 points on the night including a 3-pointer as the Eagles were within one point.

Ellis and Fausone scored 21 points on the night, with brother Caanin Fausone adding 10. Micah Mosier had six, while center Grant Denny played perhaps his best game of the season with two blocked shots and four points.

The Mustangs attempted just six 3-pointers, shooting 55% on the game, while converting 20 of 37 attempts from the free throw line (54%). Ellis did serious damage to the Eagles attempted come back with his 14 rebounds to lead the team. The Mustangs had 43 boards in the game.

Minarets has a rematch with Caruthers (13-7, 3-2 WSL) this Friday at 7:30 p.m.. The last time the two teams met the Mustangs were without the services of Ellis (18 ppg). The Blue Raiders crushed the Mustangs 77-46 the first time, making nine 3-pointers.

Caruthers holds a slight edge in scoring over the Mustangs, averaging 53 points per contest to the Mustangs 52.