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'Stangs take a thriller

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mullen outlasts Smoky Hill 79-78 in 2OT; snaps 7-game Centennial losing streak and stays in the 5A playoff hunt.
It was back and forth, unpredictable, gut-wrenching … and wildly entertaining.

Indeed, Mullen’s 79-78 double-overtime victory over Smoky Hill on Friday night kept most everyone on the edge of their seats at Hutchison Fieldhouse.

“Everyone got their money’s worth tonight,” an elated Mustangs head coach Bob Caton said.

How close was it? It was tied at 31 at halftime, 61 at the end of regulation and 70 at the end of the first extra session. And even when the Buffaloes got a layup in the final seconds they were trying to foul Mullen on the inbounds pass before time expired.

“Oh, these kids gave a tremendous effort,” Caton said. “And we played smart basketball!”

Smart enough to halt a seven-game losing skid in the Centennial and six in succession to improve to 6-11 overall, 2-7 in league. The Mustangs hadn’t won since Jan. 10, a nonloeaguer against Legend. Better yet, it kept Mullen in the Class 5A playoff chase.

“We had some turnovers, but that’s high-school basketball,” Caton said.

Mullen could have won it in regulation, but missed five free throws down the stretch. As it was, they were only 18-of-31 at the free-throw line.

However, the Mustangs seemed to take turns in this one, everything from big baskets and free throws to running down loose balls, defending and rebounding.

Micah Leslie led the team with 17 points. Jordan Leslie added 15 despite making only 6-of-14 free throws. Josh Lopez added 12 points. Ethan Heffern provided an early spark with seven points. Hunter Lay, who has had a rash of bad luck with his attempts slowly rolling off the rim, added another seven points. Callin Smith had six points, and Jack Diasselliss and Eddie Roth each made two 3-pointers.

The Mustangs, who seemed rejuvenated afterward, never got discouraged against the taller, quicker Buffs (11-7, 6-3).

“It was good TV,” Jordan Leslie said.

The Mustangs will be idle until Thursday, Feb. 10, when they will be at Overland in Aurora, 7 p.m.

Smoky Hill  18  13  13  17  9  8  -- 78

Mullen  21  10  20  10  9  9  --  79

Smoky Hill  --  Mitchell 6 2-3 17, Maldonado 8 7-9 28, Potts 0 0-0 0, Gasway 4 2-2 12, Harris 5 5-7 15, Graham 1 0-0 2, Lewis 1 2-4 4, Contreras 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 18-25 78.

Mullen  --  J. Leslie 4 6-14 15, Lopez 4 3-5 12, Smith 3 0-0 6, M. Leslie 5 7-8 17, Lay 3 1-2 7, Heffern 3 0-0 7, Diasselliss 2 0-0 6, Jerez 1 1-2 3, Roth 2 0-0 6. Totals 27 18-31 79.

3-pt. goals --  Maldonado 5, Mitchell 3, Gasway 2; Diasselliss 2, Roth 2, J. Leslie, Lopez, Heffern. Fouled out – Heffern, Lay.