The seventh graders have played in three tournaments this year and have improved their results each time. They took consolation last month in the Zane Tourney, second place two weekends ago in the Hydesville Tourney, and won the championship in overtime at the Epperson Tourney in Crescent City last weekend.The seventh grade Mustangs are 10-7 overall on the season, and head coach Reuven Sherr is extremely proud of the progress the group has made over the season. “These guys have had a lot of tough competition this year and they have really come through as a team,” he said. “They never back down from a challenge and they play for the team, not for themselves.”
To open the Epperson tourney last Friday, the Mustangs beat Smith River 44-31. Tyler Bates led all scorers with 19 points and Oliver Tatten had nine. According to Coach Sherr, everyone on the roster scored in this easy win for the Mustangs.
The seventh graders won their round two game by an even greater margin, 36-7 over Hydesville. Ryder York led Mustangs scorers with 9 and Carson Wells chipped in six.
The win put the Mustangs in the championship game Saturday afternoon against Ferndale. “It was a tough game,” said Sherr. “Our defense was working but our offense started out slow.” Ferndale was up 14-11 at the end of the first half, but the Mustangs battled to the end and Bates put the game into overtime with a shot to tie the score late in the 4th quarter.During the 3-minute overtime it was all Mustangs, who scored 8 unanswered points to get the 36-28 win for the Championship. “Tanner Curren, Austin Willison, and Zane Schaafsma were defensive dominators and shut down the Ferndale point guard,” said Sherr. “We did a lot of subbing throughout the game so we were fresh in overtime.”
Sherr said that he got exceptional performances from Koen Etter, Kobe Gellman, and Quentin Fouquette when needed, and that power forward Enzi Stugard dominated inside play at both ends of the court.
Logan Hobbs played hard and with a smile, despite sporting a black eye he received in last weekend’s tourney. Drake Savage characterizes the team’s prioritizing the good of the whole squad over individual stats.
Bates won tournament MVP and Tatten and York were named to the all tourney team.
This week the seventh graders will wrap up their season with two home games, hosting Hydesville at 4:15 in South Fork High’s gym on Wednesday and then hosting Scotia at 5:10 in Redway Elementary’s gym on Thursday.
In league action the 8th graders defeated Redwood Prep last Wednesday 74-68, bringing their league record to 3-1. The high scoring affair was played on Toddy Thomas’ short court, reducing transition time for both teams and making virtually every inbounds play a scoring opportunity.
Tied at the half and up by just 1 at the end of the third quarter, head coach Taylor Morrow credits Brendan Scribner with catalyzing Mustang momentum by scoring 10 of his 15 points in the 4th quarter off the bench. Scribner hit back to back 3-pointers and soon the Mustangs were pouring in 3’s, including one each from Riley Gallagher, Sean Hassall-Hass and Graham McConnell. Gallagher led all scorers with 19 and McConnell had eleven.
On Friday the Mustangs traveled to Crescent City to play in the Epperson Tournament and won two out of three games, good enough for 3rd place. They opened against Crescent Elk and won easily 45-31. Hassall-Hass led the scoring with 16 points. “He hustled the whole game, running the floor tirelessly and getting a lot of rebounds,” said Morrow. Gallagher chipped in 13, including two 3-pointers.
On Saturday morning the Mustangs played Redwood Prep in round two and lost 48-47. “It’s hard to beat a team 3 times,” said Morrow, having won the last two contests against Redwood Prep.
The Mustangs were up by 10 after the 3rd quarter, but Redwood Prep took them out of their comfort zone by slowing the pace of the game down in the fourth, allowing only 3 points while scoring fourteen. “We favor many possessions,” said Morrow, whose team prospers by running the floor and playing aggressive offense.
Up by 1 point with a minute left, the Mustangs missed the front end of a couple 1+1 free throw opportunities and then gave up the go ahead points on a Redwood Prep lay-up. With just 2 seconds left, the Mustangs put up a 3-pointer that would have won the game, but just missed. Redwood Prep went on to win the tourney.
The close loss put the Mustangs in the third place game played later that afternoon. They easily defeated Smith River 54-36. Gallagher led the scoring with 10 and Scribner, Hassall-Hass, and McConnell each had eight. “We were in control the whole game and we sued the whole bench throughout the game,” said Morrow.
Cameron Messenger and McConnell were named to the all-tournament team. “Graham always has to guard our opponent’s tallest player and play excellent defense,” said Morrow. Messenger “is our best on-ball defender, who always guards the other team’s best ball-handler. He never tires.”
Now 12-10 overall, the Mustangs have a busy week ahead with two league games and their final tourney of the season. They will host Hydesville Wednesday at 5:30 at South Fork High School. “This is our chance at revenge,” said Morrow, having lost twice to Hydesville previously this season. Then they will host Scotia at Redway School on Thursday at 6:20. They will travel to McKinleyville Friday and Saturday to play in their final tournament, match-up to be determined.
The Mustangs are averaging 47.5 points per game to their opponents’ 45.9 and are getting a third of their points from 3-pointers, averaging 4.5 from behind the arc per game.