Nathan Rodriguez

Senior Nathan Rodriguez drives to the bucket amidst heavy traffic from Lincoln County defenders Feb. 13 in The Corral.

NEEDLES — Playing without scoring phenom Dawsen Yeager and down 16 at the break, Mustangs varsity basketball mounted a ferocious second-half rally against Lincoln County in The Corral Thursday night, closing to a 53-65 NIAA loss.

With Yeager, who frequently puts up more than 20 points a game, the Mustangs fell 63-36 against the Lynx in Lincoln’s home gym on Jan. 17 so the dozen point loss represents a large improvement. Even more heartening for the Needles fans, they did it largely with underclassmen who are new to the varsity program; especially freshman Christian Fuller who scored 11 in the game.

Yeager commented that he’d be ready to return to the court for the playoffs.

Lincoln led all the way: up 20-9 after the first quarter, 31-15 at the half. Needles exploded out of the locker room in the second half, closing the gap to 35-29 at the end of the third quarter.

Sophomore Nathan Chavez, a consistent scorer for the Mustangs all season, led the team with 15. Junior Ivan Stone added a dozen. Nathan Rodriguez scored 11.

Lincoln’s No. 11 C. Zile scored 32 points, all on two-point field goals. No. 22 K. Kelley scored 17.

Needles enters the NIAA 2A South League playoffs Feb. 20 as the No. 4 seed. Said Coach J.R. Rodriguez, whoever his team faces they’ll be ready.

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