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1-19 Basketball Roundup

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mullen girls use 2nd-half surge to roll Cherokee Trail; boys fall to Cougars 64-56 in 2OT. 
 
AURORA – Mullen girls may have knocked down a sudden wall.

Coming off a two-game losing streak in which they appeared confused as well as timid, the Mustangs erupted in the second half to handle Cherokee Trail 64-56 on a frigid Wednesday night in the Centennial League.

Having dropped from the top spot in Class 4A rankings to No. 2, Mullen moved to 9-4 overall and 2-1 in league, a half-game off the Centennial lead. The Mustangs, after knocking off league-leading and 5A Grandview – the Wolves had beaten the Mustangs 22 consecutive times -- had turned in consecutive unimpressive showings, losing to Cherry Creek in league and defending 5A champion Valor Christian.

As for Wednesday, they built a double-digit lead early only to have the Cougars (7-8, 1-3) close within 24-21 at halftime.

Then, it happened – Mullen looked like, well, Mullen again in blitzing the Cougars 41-14 over the second half, notably 21-3 in the third quarter.

Color head coach Frank Cawley relieved with a return to his team’s status quo.

“A really sluggish first half, a really sluggish first half,” he said. “It was not good … but I’ll tell you what – that performance in the third quarter was phenomenal.”

While holding Cherokee trail to just one field goal for more than 10 minutes, the Mullen defense also fueled an offensive barrage, one in which the Mustangs have grown accustomed.

Gracie Gallegos got back to leading the team in scoring, going for 18 points. Sophomore Allison Schwertner added a career-high 16, including three 3-pointers, and Imani Perez turned in another solid outing with defense, rebounding and 12 points, including 8-of-8 free throws.

“I think we did a really good job of coming back and turning it around,”   Schwertner said. “We really turned it up. I think the energy and defense turned into scoring on offense.”
 
MULLEN 65, CHEROKEE TRAIL 35

Mullen  16  8  21  20  --  65

Cherokee Trail  6  15  3  11   -  35

Mullen – Thomas 0 1-2 1, Giacomin 0 2-2 2, Arangua-Egbert 0 0-0 0, Gutierrez 2 1-3 5, Perez 2 8-8 12, Deloach 1 2-2 4, Schwertner 6 1-2 16, Gallegos 7 4-5 18, Jones 2 1-1 5, Wood 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 20-25 65.

Cherokee Trail  --  Lane 0 0-0 0, Banks 0 3-4 3, Bruning 1 1-2 3, Culbreath 2 0-0 6, Allen 7 4-7 19, Browitt 0 0-0 0, Miller 2 0-0 4, Leu-Pierre 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 8-13 35.

3-pt. goals – Schwertner 3; .Culbreath 2, Allen. Fouled out -- Culbreath.
 
Boys

They certainly had their chances.

The Mustangs led the host Cougars by eight points in the second half before falling 64-56 in double overtime.

It was Mullen’s third consecutive loss. Now 5-8 overall, the Mustangs dipped to 1-4 in league.

Afterward, coach Bob Caton knew his team let one get away … and it was frustrating.

“A lot of unforced turnovers,” he said. “Nobody’s on us and we throw the ball away. We don’t protect the ball. And there’s nothing you can do – if you don’t value the ball, you’re playing defense 75 percent of the time. We preach it, we tell them … all we can do is keep working on it.”

Cherokee Trail (6-7, 1-3) trailed by as many as eight points in the second half before rallying. It also outscored Mullen 10-2 in the second extra session.

Ethan Heffern topped Mullen with a career-high 20 points. Micah Leslie added 12.

“It would have been a good (victory) to get,” Caton said. “But, hey, back to the drawing board.”
 
CHEROKEE TRAIL 64, MULLEN 56, 2OT

Mullen   15  16  8  10  5  2  -- 56

Cherokee Trail  13 11  13  12  5  10  --  64

Mullen – J. Leslie 3 0-1 6, Lopez 0 5-6 5, Heffern 8 0-0 20, Smith 0 0-0 0, M. Leslie 5 2-2 12, Jerez 0 0-0 0, Diasselliss 2 0-0 6, Lay 2 3-4 7, Roth 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 10-13 56.

Cherokee Trail  --  Niyongabo 3 0-0 8, Lloyd 3 6-6 12, Gibson 6 2-2 18, Titus 4 2-2 12, Yslas 4 1-2 9, Sanders 0 0-0 0, Brook 2 1-4 5, Barber 0 0-0 0.  Totals 22 12-16 64.

3-pt. goals – Heffern 4, Diasselliss 2; Gibson 4, Niyongabo 2, Titus 2.
 
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