NEEDLES — The Needles High School Mustangs are still in the hunt for third after getting two back-to-back much needed NIAA 2A South League wins against the Mountain View Saints 63-48 on Jan. 30 and Lincoln County Lynx 58-51 on Feb. 2.

With both wins the Mustangs overall record improves to 17-8 and their league record now stands at 8-6 which ties them with The Meadows Mustangs for the third place spot in the playoff race.

Against Mountain View, in the first quarter the Mustangs had 12 points, Saints 13 points; second Mustangs 13, Saints 5; third Mustangs 18, Saints 11; fourth Mustangs 20, Saints 19.

Leading the Mustangs was Irving Juarez with 17 points, Jayden Yeager with 14 points and Gilman Jenkins with 11 points.

The game went back and forth and was a close match throughout but the Mustangs were able to force a couple of turnovers late that gave them the win.

“We scored the same as we did when we visited the Saints but our defense came up big for us this game and that was the key factor for the win,” said Pat ‘Woody’ Woodburn, Mustangs head coach.

On the game Juarez commented that they were making smart passes and trying to get the ball down the court fast to break the press defense that the Saints were running.

Woodburn earned his 1200th career win as a head coach in the game with the Saints; he’s suffered 378 losses.

“I’m honored to be a part of his (Woodburn) 1200th win because I know how many games that must have been and the guys he coached before and how good they were so it’s an honor to be part of history,” said Juarez.

“It’s a great accomplishment because it’s a very hard thing to do and not a lot of coaches can say that they have 1200 wins,” said Bill Darrow, NHS Athletic Director.

After getting the win against the Saints the Mustangs had to get a crucial win against the Lynx to have a shot at third seed.

In the first quarter the Mustangs scored 13 points, Lynx 10; second Mustangs 21, Lynx 13; third Mustangs 10, Lynx 11; fourth Mustangs 14, Lynx 17.

Leading the way for the Mustangs was Trey Tsosie with 16 points and Juarez with 12 points. Jenkins, Yeager and Semaj Howell all had eight points.

The Mustangs came out firing on all cylinders in the fist half and in the second half the Lynx made a run and got it to single digits but the Mustangs were able to hold them off.

On the game seniors Dillon Darrow and Yeager both mentioned that in the second half the team settled down, got some big stops on defense and converted critical baskets to win the game.

“Gilman (Jenkins) and Dillon (Darrow) both fouled out so our bench players stepped up big time for us in this game,” said Woodburn. “This is a special team and I’ve coached for 40 years and I am so proud of them because they made it fun and of their willingness to help each other out to succeed.”

The Mustangs were set to take on the Adelson Lions during senior night in The Corral on Feb. 6. They travel to face the Calvary Chapel Lions on Feb. 8; tipoff is at 3:30 p.m. for JV, 6:30 p.m. for varsity to end their regular NIAA season.

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