Junior, Marissa Wilks, attempts to block a shot from opposing team. Pantego Christian Academy in their first playoff game.
The Lady Mustangs’ season came to an abrupt end last Tuesday night with an unexpected loss to Arlington Pantego Christian 47-42 at MCA’s Joshua’s Gymnasium. The Mustangs were coming out of District 3-4A as a number one seed and ranked five in the state. The Panthers, on the other hand, were number two out of tough District 2 and ranked just behind the Mustangs at number six in the state rankings. It was to be no pushover for sure, but the Mustangs, higher seeded, higher ranked and playing at home were the odds on favorites. Someone should have told the Panthers, however, because they refused to follow the scripts and instead rallied from a half time deficit to take the lead in the third quarter and held on for the hard fought upset.
The game started well enough for the Mustangs, they were frustrating the Panthers with their defensive scheme, giving them no open looks and Senior guard Emilie Brochu stole a pass at the key and took it the distance for a 2-0 lead. Senior point guard Mikalya Kuehne then hit Freshman Waverly Frisbie on the fast break for a layup and it was 4-0. The Panthers small athletic shooting guard, Autumn Hooper then answered with a drive to the basket to cut into the lead, but Kuehne answered quickly with a layup, 6-2. The teams traded single free throws and the Kuehne made two in a row and it was 9-3 , MCA. After Kuehne made two more free throws and Junior Marissa Wilks scored on a twisting drive, the Mustangs seemed to be in control at 13-4.
The Panthers did not win 18 games this season by accident, however. Their talented, tall post, Darria Williams, coolly drained a three to get them back in it at 13-7 and when the Mustang defense was confused in transition, the Panthers top shooter, Rachel Brice, got loose for a layup and it was 13-9 after one and the Mustangs realized they were in for a game.
Senior forward Jackie Greenwell opened the second with two free throws, but both teams went into the deep freeze. Several trips up and down the floor were fruitless for both teams. The Mustangs defense was holding steady, but their shots were misfiring and most concerning of all, they were beginning to pick up fouls. The most damaging occurred when the Mustangs best defender, Wilks, was whistled for her third foul early in the second quarter. Hooper of the Panthers made two free throws to cut the lead to 15-11, but Wilks made two in return to hold at 17-11. Kuehne made two free throws but the Panthers closed with 5 more free throws and it was 19-16 at the half.
We often say that game can be won or lost by how the team comes out in the third period. The Mustangs third quarter was disastrous. Williams took advantage of Wilks’ foul trouble to get to the basket to cut the lead to 19-18 and then the Panthers beat the Mustangs down the floor to take their first lead at 20-19. The Mustangs beat the Panther press twice in a row to go back up 23-20, but the Panthers then scored 6 straight on two free throws and two midrange jumpers while the Mustangs were shooting blanks. The Panthers were up 26-23 and though the game was not decided until the final seconds, the Mustangs would never regain the lead.
Kuehne found Wilks in the lane to make it 26-25, but the Panther guards got through the Mustang defense for three straight layups and the Mustangs were down by 7 at 32-25. Wilks closed the quarter with a layup of her own and it was 32-27 after three. The Mustangs were not defeated, but were definitely on the ropes with their two leaders Wilks and Kuehne saddled with three fouls each. The Mustangs needed to turn the tide, but their solid defense, decimated by foul trouble was suddenly quite porous and their normally reliable shooting skills had deserted them.
They started the 4th with the ball but again misfired on an open look and the Panthers scored on yet another drive to the basket. Kuehne gave some hope with a drive and one to go to 34-30, but after a Mustang missed layup, the Panthers Izzy Alexander hit an unguarded three to go back to seven at 37-30. Frisbie then hit a baseline floater and Wilks dropped to Greenwell for a bunny and it was quite a game at 37-34. Hooper was fouled on a put back and made both at 39-34, but then Kuehne made her first three of the game to get the Mustangs as close as they had been in the 4th quarter at 39-37 with three minutes to play.
With the offense finally showing some sparks, Mustangs needed some defensive stops to win this game. Unfortunately, they never got them as the Panthers guards got to the basket twice more for layups to extend to six at 43-37 with two minutes to play. Brochu got her 5th foul and was replaced by Sr Lexi Vance and from that point on it was a free throw contest . Kuehne made 5 of 6 for the Mustangs, but would foul out with less than a minute to play and the Panthers countered with 4 of 5 from the charity stripe to send the Mustangs to their earliest playoff departure in five years.
Kuehne led the Mustangs with 21 points, while Wilks had 9, Frisbie 6, and Greenwell 4. Brochu ended with 2 points. Greenwell led in boards with 13 followed by Wilks with 8.
Hooper led the Panthers with 18 points, while Alexander had 10 and Brice and Williams had 8 each. The Panthers moved to 19-7 on the season and advanced to play Lubbock Trinity in the Regionals. The Mustangs ended the season at 17-11.
Head Coach Lee Brock stated, “Well it is always tough to lose the last game you play. This team had an up and down season with many highs and a few lows. We battled back from illnesses and injuries to come together to win the district with two quality wins over Coram Deo. We were good enough to beat Pantego, but could not get our shots to fall and that is the name of the game that Mr Naismith designed, put the ball in the basket . Still, we had a lot of fun this season and it is a very good group of girls who worked very hard to get better. We will certainly miss our graduating seniors, Mikayla, Jackie, Emilie and Lexi, but they have helped to continue the tradition of winning Lady Mustang basketball. We have a good group of returning players who have the potential to be competitive if they will put in the work over the summer. We were true to our goals of learning basketball, having fun, and honoring God and for that we are very proud of them.”
Photo by: Laura Smith
Senior, Mikayla Kuehne, attempts to take a shot on opposing team, Pantego Christian Academy.