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No. 46 Mullen does it ... again

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
The Mustangs continue to come through by knocking off No 14 Doherty 61-46. The unlikely bracket-busters have earned a chance for more extra basketball -- vs. No. 3 Chaparral on Wednesday, March 2.
COLORADO SPRINGS -- The magic-carpet ride continues …

A few days after Mullen, seeded No. 46 in the Class 5A bracket, knocked off the 19 seed, the Mustangs followed with another resounding victory, 61-46 victory at No. 14 Doherty on Saturday.

It boosted the Mustangs’ mark to 10-14. Doherty ended 17-7.

Cinderella still lives in certain basketball-playoff brackets.

“It’s really fun,” Mullen head coach Bob Caton said..

The Mustangs were the first No. 46 seed to advance past the preliminary round since 2018, when Chatfield knocked off Vista Ridge, and will be in the Sweet 16 on Wednesday at No. 4 Chaparral in Parker on Wednesday, March 2, with a tentative tip-off at 6:30 p.m.

For Mullen, which dropped nine-of-10 games from Jan. 13-Feb. 16, it was a fourth-consecutive victory. The Mustangs had to win their final two games in the regular season to barely qualify, so elimination play has been relevant.

“The last three games,” Mustangs senior Micah Leslie said, “we really got our defense going. It’s the playoffs. If we lose, we’re done and we know that.”

Again, Caton credited assistants Chris Crosby and Arlandus Lowe “for getting our defense going and they did a great job.”

Mullen made its move in the second quarter. Leading 13-11, the Mustangs went on an 18-7 binge to grab control and stifle the Spartans. Even when Doherty got within six points in the second half, Mullen responded repeatedly.

The Mustangs had a long list of contributors.

Ethan Heffern, who has come alive in the postseason, again topped Mullen in scoring. He had 15 points. Micah Leslie added 13. Josh Lopez (nine), Jordan Leslie (eight) and Hunter Lay (seven) provided balance. Heffern, Jordan Leslie and Lopez handled things out front as well as against a frantic Spartans press and the Mustangs beat Doherty down the floor for layups multiple times.

Cisco Jerez and Eddie Roth added 3-pointers as Mullen built its halftime lead.

Lay, Micah Leslie and Callan Smith handled most of the banging inside during a game that certainly had its physical moments, including on te perimeter.

“We played good competition and we can beat any team if we play our best ball,” Micah Leslie said.

Lay, a junior, said “it doesn’t matter what seed we are.”

Through two postseason outings, it hasn’t been a factor.
All Caton desires is the Mustangs’ best effort. He has stayed patient with his group and it has paid off with spirited play.

“You play defense, you stay connected and it’s kind of fun basketball,” he said. “And we protected the lead. We passed the ball well, looked for the open man and got some of those little layups that helped.

“It’s a good group.”

Mullen  13  18  12  18  --  61

Doherty  11  7  17  11  -- 46

Mullen --  J. Leslie 2 3-6 8, Lopez 4 0-0 9, Heffern 6 2-2 15, Smith 1 1-2 3, M. Leslie 5 3-4 13, Lay 2 2-4 7, Roth 1 0-0 3, Diasselliss 0 0-0 0, Jerez 1 0-0 3, Castillo 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 11-18 61.

3-pt. goals – Heffern, Jerez, Lay, J. Leslie, Lopez, Roth.