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Mullen girls turn 17

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mustangs win their 17th consecutive playoff, 59-27 over Roosevelt; 3-time-defending champs' Big Three plays in final home game at The Hutch; semis matchup on Thursday is next at the historic Denver Coliseum.  
Mullen kept rolling on Friday night – the Mustangs won their 17th playoff game in succession with a 59-27 rout of Roosevelt at a crowded Hutchison Fieldhouse in the Class 4A quarterfinals.

The second-seeded Mustangs improved to 19-6 and will meet No. 6 Green Mountain (23-2) in the semifinals on Thursday at the Denver Coliseum.

Beginning slower than in recent outings, particularly shooting, Mullen took a while to run away and hide, but the program’s constant again was, well constant. It begins with the letter D.

“Defense won the game again,” head coach Frank Cawley said in pointing to Roosevelt’s 10 points in the first half, just two in the second quarter. “You can have an off day shooting if you play defense.”

Cawley said his team’s first two playoff victories – 77-21 over Coronado and 77-31 against Berthoud – caused “a little bit of panic … it spoiled us. We came in at halftime not leading by 40. We were only winning by (18). But all you have to do is win by one.”

Ultimately, Mullen got going through its defense, rebounding and shot-blocking that led to numerous transition opportunities.

Seniors Kilah Freelon, Gracie Gallegos and Imani Perez, in their final home game, turned in their usual, all-around efforts and combined for 47 points, 18 by Freelon, the Texas Tech signee who spoke for the team’s Big Three in terms of bittersweet nostalgia.

“Yeah,” Freelon said in a connecting hallway, “there were fun times in that gym. With it being my senior year, it means a lot doing it with my best friends … my family, actually. We played pretty hard and pretty good.”

Gallegos, headed to UC-San Diego, again demonstrated her prowess as perhaps the top two-way guard of her era, and Hawaii-bound Perez continued to enforce an intense inside presence that also includes under-rated offensive ability, notably to handle the ball and ability to finish at the rim.

Roosevelt, which never led, ended 22-4 and did not attain double figures in points in any quarter.

Mullen, the three-time defending Colorado champion, will have nearly a week to prepare.

“Absolutely, we’re excited,” Cawley said. “We haven’t played there in a while (since 2020; the 2021 semis and final were in Colorado Springs), and we’ll see what happens. We’re excited about going there.”

Roosevelt 8  2  9  8  --  27

Mullen  16  12  17  14  --  59

Mullen --  Gutierrez 1 0-0 2, Perez 5 5-6 15, Freelon 8 2-4 18, Schwertner 1 0-1 2, Gallegos 6 1-1 14, Giacomin 2 0-0 5, Jones 0 2-2 2, Thomas 0 0-0 0, DeLoach 0 1-2 1, Berumen 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 11-16 59.

3-pt. goals – Gallegos, Giacomin.