It’s always a possibility and Frank Cawley knows it.
And when it comes, it ultimately doesn’t matter if it’s foreseen or not.
It came on Friday night for his Mullen Mustangs.
They were beaten by a determined Cherry Creek 43-34 at Hutchison Fieldhouse in Centennial League play and there were no arguments or excuses to be offered. Cawley, the Mullen head coach, had to sit and watch it.
“We just didn’t have anything tonight, a complete letdown,” he said afterward.
Certainly, the high the Class 4A top-ranked and three-time-defending-champion Mustangs, now 8-3 overall, 1-1 in league, were coming off was considerable – they beat regular league and 5A power Grandview on Wednesday to snap an 11-year, 22-game skid against the Wolves.
But it meant nothing on Friday.
“We had a little bit of Wednesday in our heads,” the coach said, “but we dropped the ball and that’s OK.”
It happened almost immediately, when front-line forward Kilah Freelon left with an ankle injury and did not return. But Mullen woes continued throughout the game, notably in a second half in which it failed to make a basket over the final 16 minutes. The Mustangs had a goose egg from the floor in the second half, going a very unusual 0-for-16. All told, they shot 7-of-37 (19 percent), missed at least three sound opportunities to take command and couldn’t match the Bruins’ persistence, most of which came through sticky defense.
“Losing Kilah took the wind out of our sails, but that happens,” Cawley said. “We just played lackadaisical, just waiting for someone to catch fire. And we started to play one-on-one, not tram basketball.”
Mullen fared well rebounding, but had rashes of turnovers and didn’t defend against Cherry Creek (6-4, 1-1) drives to the basket.
Hannah Giacomin came off the bench to lead Mullen with 10 points. Imani Perez added eight, but the Mustangs, who were averaging 61 points, scored in single figures in three of the four quarters.
“Their defense was very good and (head coach) Clint (Evans) had them ready,” Cawley said. “Thank God it’s a long season and the league is good.”
The Mustangs will be idle for a week – they will host defending 5A Colorado champion Valor Christian on Friday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. in nonleague.
CHERRY CREEK 43, MULLEN 34
Cherry Creek 6 9 12 16 -- 43
Mullen 5 14 8 7 -- 34
Mullen -- Gutierrez 0 5-6 5, Perez 2 4-4 8, Freelon 0 0-0 0, Schwertner 1 3-7 5, Gallegos 1 4-5 6, Jones 0 0-0 0, Giacomin 3 2-2 10. Totals 7 18-24 34.
3-pt. goals – Giacomin 2.