It was the final game on their home floor at Hutchison Fieldhouse in this new Season B and Mullen’s Mustangs played like they were never going to get another chance.
They ripped Falcon 87-53 on Tuesday evening in the Class 4A Great 8 for their 12th consecutive playoff victory over three seasons and their ninth in a row this season. They are 15-2 and will go against a familiar one on Thursday in the final four, Holy Family’s Tigers, who will host in Broomfield.
Mustangs head coach Frank Cawley was particularly moved by what he calls his “special group,” notably that the weekend snowstorm prevented any practice, Mullen is on spring break and that the game changed dates twice.
“They played hard,” he said. “We missed practice, but they’re just a resilient group. And (the Falcons) are a good team. They shoot the ball well and they run their stuff.”
Mullen ended Falcon’s season at 15-2. The Falcons, who won their first 12 games, are the second league champion from the southern area the Mustangs have handled in successive rounds. Counting the 69-22 whipping of Canon City earlier the past week, the Mustangs beat the two loop winners by a combined 156-75.
Defense has been carrying Mullen, Cawley said, and junior Imani Perez had her best game, he added. Perez scored nine points, but added 11 rebounds, blocked a couple of shots, discouraged several others and her presence in the paint kept the Falcons nowhere near the boards and frequently limited to one shot, She also made switches when necessary to guard the perimeter.
“For sure, we definitely came out with energy,” Perez said.
With the team missing multiple practices, she said she and her teammates “worked on our own time to get ready for this game. We definitely had something to prove.”
Said Cawley: “She was really special and it’s good to see for our next game.”
Also on defense, junior Kilah Freelon helped guard the paint and backboards, and the Mullen guards and forwards had success on the perimeter.
Hannah Burg (22 points) and Billie Fiore (12) tried to keep Falcon in the game, but shot a combined 13-of-38 as Mullen’s defensive harassment was real.
On the other end, the Mustangs also kept at it. Over three playoff games, they are averaging 82 points per outing, which is more like a vintage Denver Prep League boys team. Junior Gracie Gallegos topped Mullen with 26 points, shooting 10-of-17. Senior Alexa Dominguez missed her first shot before canning her next nine for 18 points. Senior point guard Megan Pohs shot 7-of-15 for 17 points. Perez made 3-of-4 field goals and senior Haley Van Horn helped the Mustangs to a hot start by drilling a couple of 3-points as they ran to a 10-0 lead.
“They were good in the shoot-around (prior to the game),” Cawley said, “which was good to see.”
An old Parochial League rivalry will be revived on Thursday. The two programs haven’t faced each other much over the past 15 seasons, but have met four times since 2016 with both sides winning twice, including in the 2019 title game won by Mullen. And there’s also the 4A title game that wasn’t allowed to happen a year ago at the outset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
And Perez said everyone knows about it.
“We want to play Holy Family,” she said. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for us and another thing to prove.”
MULLEN 87, FALCON 53
Falcon 12 16 14 11 – 53
Mullen 25 21 11 26 – 87
Falcon – Wood 2 0-0 5, Burg 9 1-2 22, Fiore 4 1-2 12, Mensen 4 0-0 10, Harkema 0 2-2 2, Long 0 0-0 0, Mustain 1 0-0 2. Totals 20 4-6 53.
Mullen – Pohs 7 0-0 17, Dominguez 9 0-0 18, Van Horn 2 0-0 6, Perz 3 3-3 9, Gallegos 10 4-4 26, Freelon 2 1-2 5, Martinez 1 0-0 2, Oates-Stamm 0 0-0 0, Webster 0 0-0 0, Gutierrez 0 1-2 1, Schwertner 0 1-2 1, Aragon 1 0-0 2. Totals 35 10-13 87.
3-pt. goals – Burg 3, Fiore 3, Mensen 2, Wood; Pohs 3, Gallegos 2, Van Horn 2.