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Opportunities available for boys hoops

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Shorter season and smaller playoff bracket, but Mustangs figure to be improved and capable of competing in the always good Centennial League.
(Third in a series of previews for the new Season B.)
One thing as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as far as Mullen boys basketball is concerned – the new Season B provided additional time to forget about 2019-20.

The Mustangs stumbled to a 4-19 mark a year ago and have put it behind them.

As for this season, “I think we can be pretty good,” head coach Bob Caton said.

The current group enters with Regis Rangers pledge Brayden Carter, 6-foot-8, who Caton believes can be one of the state’s top players in Class 5A. He also can play away from the basket, as can additional Mustangs, perhaps one of the trends of the season.

Other regulars and those who saw time the past season include Josh Lopez, Ethan Heffern, Sean Berg and Trey Dominguez, who each are a year older, a little taller and significantly more experienced.

They will be joined by the interesting Micah Leslie, a 6-4 junior who can bring the ball up the floor or compete inside. He was forced to play junior varsity only in 2019-20 as his transfer from Valor Christian wasn’t approved by state officials.

“He adds a dimension of rebounding and length around the basket,” Caton said.

In addition, the 6-6 Ryan Schmitt, a senior, and Callen Smith, a 6-5 junior, should have opportunities to compete inside and give the Mustangs always important depth.

In this pandemic of a season, teams are permitted 14 regular-season games, so it works out perfectly for the Centennial League – there will be home-and-away dates for each of the eight members.

Caton, like others, figures Cherry Creek will be the team to beat, but spots behind the Bruins remain open for suggestion. There have been significant graduation losses as well as transfers out of state across the loop.

“They’re all tough and there are no nights off,” the coach said.

The Mustangs will open at home on Wednesday, Jan. 27, against Grandview. The regular season will run through Thursday, March 4.

The big-school bracket will be smaller this season, dropping from 48 teams to 32, and Caton feels his guys can compete for a berth.

“If we can play hard and smart, we’ll be OK,” he said.