On Senior Night at Mountain Range High School Feb. 12, the Mustangs couldn’t hold on to their halftime lead against in-conference foe Monarch (7-15, 3-8 in conference), dropping in the end, 66-57. …
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On Senior Night at Mountain Range High School Feb. 12, the Mustangs couldn’t hold on to their halftime lead against in-conference foe Monarch (7-15, 3-8 in conference), dropping in the end, 66-57.
Falling behind 7-2 two minutes into the contests, MR didn’t give in, outscoring the Coyotes 27-18 the remainder of the first half. Playing with fantastic offensive tempo and using active hands on the defensive end, the Mustangs eliminated the substantial size differential that the road team presented. Led by four three-pointers and 14 points from senior Connor Jones, the Mustangs galloped to the 4-point lead at the intermission.
However, unfortunately for the MR squad (4-19, 1-11 in conference) hoping to snap their 10-game losing streak, the size and athleticism of Monarch found their rhythm at the start of the third.
Going on a 9-3 run the first two minutes and 17 seconds of the frame, the Coyotes found themselves back in front. Live-ball turnovers mixed with consistent fouling from the Mustangs put them behind the 8-ball as Monarch found themselves in the bonus regularly in the second half.
“It’s tough, especially in high school basketball if a team has a significant size and length advantage,” 27-year-old, first-year Mountain Range coach Jordan Carter said. “I feel like in the first half we were able to negate their height advantage a little bit, we hit some shots, and we forced them to rush some of theirs. In the second half, I think the fouls caught up to us, and I think we were worn down a little bit. We had to try some different defenses to get them off-balanced, but they made great plays. They finished well, they hit their free throws when they needed to, and took care of the ball. Credit to them, they finished stronger than us, and they deserved to win.”
Keeping MR afloat in the second half, senior point guard JT Millar poured in 16 (12 of which in the fourth quarter) of the team’s 28 points. Despite the floor general’s heroic effort, not a lot of help from anyone other than Jones hurt the Mustangs in their chances to rally late.
“They both played awesome (Millar and Jones). They played like it was their last game,” Carter said. “They shot pretty well and kept us in the game, but our downfall was we didn’t have enough guys with it tonight. We got good shots, but we didn’t have enough guys shooting well. I think all of the guys played hard, but I’m proud of those two.”
Ending the night with 41 points combined, Jones (21 points) and Millar (20 points) accounted for 72 percent of the offense with Jones recording all six 3-pointers the group converted on the night (Jones 6-for-11 on 3-pointers, the team attempted 28 three’s on the night). Junior Logan Dexter led MR with 12 rebounds and was third in scoring with nine.
Despite the rough stretch for Mountain Range to wrap up the 2018-2019 season, one thing Carter and his team can hang their hat on is their effort. With seniors, Alex Savage, Jacob Konarski, Brandon Romero, D’Angello Wright, Millar and Jones setting the precedence moving forward, this group left their mark on a new culture at Mountain Range High School.
“I can’t even describe how important they have been,” Carter said. “It’s my first head coaching job in a 5A historically good program, and we had some seniors who some were thrown into situations they have never been in before. I thought the level of fight and integrity they showed meant the world to me because it is hard for any new coaching staff the first year. You try to establish new things, and it’s tough, but they made it as easy it could possibly be. I’m going to miss them, but their impact will be felt long after they are gone.”
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