Eighth Grade Boys’ Hoops 4-5 in Early Season

Riley Gallagher on the dribble [Photo by Mindi Contreras]

The Miranda Mustangs eighth grade boys basketball team has had its ups and downs over the first nine games of the season, playing well at times and not up to potential at others. The team has had to deal with cancellations due to weather, resulting in long weeks of games with little time to rest or practice.

Last weekend the team dropped all three games in an important tournament that might have qualified them for the Crescent City Jaycees Tournament at the end of the season when all the best middle school teams from Humboldt and Del Norte come together. They then bounced back with a convincing 58-46 win over Redwood Prep after the tourney.

Head coach Taylor Morrow has taken the tough times in stride, and, realizing the developmental level of middle school basketball, is encouraging his players to let go of the past, not think too much about the future, and just “focus on what’s in front of us.”

Crue Contreras takes a jumpshot [Photo by Mindi Contreras]

In the Redwood Prep win “we played the way we can play,” said Morrow, pleased to see his squad fulfilling their potential, controlling the tempo and producing balanced scoring throughout the game. Alex Harding and Cameron Messenger were high scorers for the Mustangs with 13 points each, Harding hitting two 3-pointers, and Messenger sinking 9 free throws and making 2 buckets.

In the Fortuna tournament, Coach Morrow takes the blame for the 48-44 loss to Crescent Elk in the first game. “I may have over-prepared them to think this opponent was a better team than they actually were,” Morrow said, causing a loss of confidence in his players. “We dug ourselves a hole early and were down 26-9 at the end of the first half.”

The team regrouped in the second half and scored 35 points to Crescent Elk’s 22, but fell just short of the win. “We got our composure back and buckled down and started to execute,” said Morrow, “we forced turnovers and got easy buckets.”

Riley Gallagher was top scorer with 15 points including 3 from behind the arc and Harding followed with 13. Messenger added nine points and was “a rock,” according to Morrow. “He never falters and is always trying as hard as he possibly can.”

Brendan Scribner shows one of his moves [Photo by Mindi Contreras]

In the next game the Mustangs fell to Hydesville 65-34. Ahead by two points at the half, the Mustangs had made six 3-pointers but could not keep up the offensive pace and were outscored 24-8 in the 3rd quarter. “We couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t keep them off the boards,” said Morrow. “They just wanted it more than we did.” Gallagher had 12 points, including four 3-pointers, and Harding had 9 points, one from behind the arc, and was 4 for 4 from the free throw line.

In the final game of the tourney against Fortuna the Mustangs were out of gas. They fell behind Fortuna 27-9 in the first half, and while they mounted a comeback in the 3rd quarter they couldn’t sustain it and lost 50-34. Gallagher scored 10 points and Graham McConnell had seven. The weather, school closures, and the week’s heavy game schedule all contributed to wearing down the players.

This week the Mustangs face Ferndale on the road on Tuesday, Rio Dell on the road Thursday and then they will get another shot at post-season play qualification playing in the Ferndale tourney on the weekend.

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