NEEDLES — Mustangs and Lady ’Stangs varsity basketball took two NIAA 2A South League wins on the road last week; expected for the girls and crucial for the boys in their last-ditch run at a playoff berth.
The Mustangs cruised to a 74-32 win over Mountain View Christian on Jan. 29; then played what Coach Paul Duchaineau called their best game in a 64-60 win over Lincoln County on Feb. 1. The Lady ’Stangs beat Mountain View 59 - 11; Lincoln 50-36.
Both were set to face Adelson on the road Feb. 5. Both return to The Corral for what’s likely to be their toughest challenge in the NIAA regular season, hosting Calvary Chapel on Senior Night, Thursday, Feb. 7. Whatever the outcome fans can expect to see some fierce basketball.
As of last week assessments indicated Needles’ girls sat comfortably atop the league with an unbeaten record. Calvary was believed to be in the No. 2 spot. Calvary led the league for the boys having lost only one game: an early-season bout with Lincoln County. Needles’ boys were one game out of the playoffs but could still claim a berth. Needles High Athletic Director Bill Darrow confirmed that the Mustangs must beat Adelson Feb. 5 and might have to beat Calvary Feb. 7 to make that happen.
Mustangs 64 - Lynx 60
“The kids played their best game tonight,” said Coach Duchaineau. “They worked hard the whole game, passed and shot really well.”
Nathan Rodriguez scored a team-high 17 with four 2-point field goals, one 3-point field goal, and a 6-for-8 performance at the free throw line. Dawsen Yeager dialed long-distance with four 3-pointers and added a final-quarter 2-pointer to total 14. Doogie Harvey and Semaj Howell ruled the post: Harvey with a half-dozen deuces, Howell with three and a 4-for-7 appearance at the charity stripe.
The Lynx led 12-8 after the first quarter, 28-25 at the half but fell to a Mustangs’ third-quarter rally to go up 47-38. While Lincoln’s boys, led by Cody Zile’s game-high 20, outscored Needles 22-17 in the final stanza it just wasn’t enough.
“They hustled all over the court, rebounded and played as a team,” said Duchaineau of his Mustangs.
“It was fun to watch a team that has worked so hard be rewarded with a win.”
Lady ’Stangs 50 - Lady Lynx 36
Assigning two and sometimes three girls to defend Lincoln against senior Paige Murch backfired when her teammates opened up from outside.
“The Lady ’Stangs perimeter shooting was outstanding tonight with Valentina Limon, Marie Mills and Jordyn Breaux knocking down seven three point field goals,” said Coach Manuel Calderon.
In fact, Lincoln’s defense could be said to have backfired twice: Murch still scored nine and, the coach remembered, provided great interior defense.
Mills led the scoring with 17, Breaux added 12, Limon 10. Collectively, the girls went 7-for-9 from the free throw line. Needles led 13-6 after one, 27-22 at the half, 44-30 after three quarters of play.
Mustangs 74 - Saints 32
Needles’ boys wasted no time finding their way to the bucket Jan. 29: striking for 26 points to Mountain View’s seven in the first quarter and 29 points to the Saints’ 12 in the second.
Trevyn Diaz sank two treys and two deuces while Dawsen Yeager sank one each plus a pair of free throws in that first period. The pair scored 16 each in the game. Nathan Rodriguez opened up with three treys and a deuce in the second period on his way to a 13 point game total. Semaj Howell sank four twos and went 3-for-4 from the stripe for 11, all in the first half.
“The kids drove to the basket and made their layups,” said Duchaineau. The defense shone, especially when they shut the Saints out entirely in the fourth quarter. “Everyone contributed and received well-deserved minutes,” the coach said. “It was great to see.”
Lady ’Stangs 59 - Lady Saints 11
“The score pretty much tells the story,” said Calderon of the Mountain View game. “All the players saw plenty of playing time and got plenty of shots, although we tried to play a mixed lineup instead of five in and five out. We’re trying to keep everyone keyed up for the playoffs.”
Paige Murch led Needles’ girls with 17, Valentina Limon followed with 12, Marie Mills scored 11 in a game that Needles led 25-4 after one, 42-7 at the half and 50-9 after three quarter of play. The Lady ’Stangs went 7-for-10 from the charity stripe, while fouling a Mountain View player only once, in the opening minutes of the game.