Twin Bridges and Ennis fans packed the gym on Jan. 27, when the Mustangs hosted the Falcons for two close games.
“Focus in! Let’s do this!” yelled Ennis’ MaKenzie Moen, pumping up her team at the start of the game. Moen, a starting guard for the Mustangs, came out aggressive and ready to take down the undefeated Lady Falcons.
A minute into the first quarter, Moen broke through the Falcon offense for a fast break hoping to put Ennis on the board first. As she made her way down the court she was quickly met by Falcon standout Kailee Oliverson with a block. Oliverson ended her night with eight blocked shots.
As the clock wound down in the first, both teams were scoreless. With defensive pressure from both sides, no one could seem to get a shot off without a block or box out from the other team. With less than four minutes left in the first, Oliverson broke through a two-person block, good for two points.
The Mustangs quickly answered back as senior Caitlin Klatt pulled the same maneuver, breaking from a double block for two easy points.
The game was much the same throughout the rest of the first half as shot after shot seemed to dance along the rim, but the Lady Falcons managed to pull away, little by little. The teams entered the locker rooms at the half, 22 – 8 Falcons.
As the game started back up in the second, the Falcons continued to stretch out their lead and slowly pulled away , capitalizing on Mustang fouls. Jessica George went to the free throw line for the Falcons after Klatt used the last of her personal fouls, leaving the game at the end of the third quarter.
“It went pretty good,” said Falcon head coach Rob Lott. “We played good defense and I thought we were pretty evenly matched.”
The Falcons came out on top, defeating the Mustangs 42-25 and holding on to their undefeated season.
Most of the Falcon bench managed to put points on the board but Oliverson led the way with 15; Jessica George and Madyson Beagley each contributed six.
Moen was the Mustangs’ high scorer with seven points; sophomore Danyel Martin contributed five and Klatt ended her night with four.
“The Twin game was tough,” said Mustang head coach Jordan Overstreet. “Both teams came out and worked extremely hard defensively … we must get better at handling pressure and rebounding, if we can improve on those things before tournaments we will be pretty tough to beat.”
Twin Bridges will host Manhattan Christian on Feb. 5, and West Yellowstone on Feb. 6. The Falcons will host Sheridan for their last in-county game on Feb. 13, before heading to the district tournament.
Ennis will head to Boulder on Feb. 4 to challenge the Jefferson Panthers and will host Shields Valley on Feb. 5. The Mustangs will travel to Sheridan for their last in-county game on Feb. 12.
After a tough loss against the Falcons at the beginning of the season, the Mustangs came out ready for a rematch – and that is just what they got.
But the Falcons were not about to give the game away.
Early in the first quarter, 6 foot junior Wesley Harshbarger drained an easy three from the baseline and then sunk another three points from behind the arc on the Falcons’ next play. With six points from Harshbarger and a near-dunk from senior Tracen Eggers, the Falcons slowly extended their lead.
While the Falcons kept the Mustangs at arms length through the first half, they could not keep them there.
Both teams were evenly matched when it came to strength and speed. The Falcons bench had a slight edge over the Mustangs, with eight of their 12 varsity players reaching 6 foot or above, versus four of 11 players for the Mustangs. But when the Mustangs shoot well, height does not even come into play.
The Mustangs brought out the heat in the third quarter, sinking shot after shot and closing in on the Falcon lead. With three minutes left in the third, Tracer Croy sunk a baseline three, putting the Mustangs in the lead, 37 – 36.
The Falcons answered with a field goal from Eggers, taking back the lead.
The game followed much of the same back-and-forth throughout the second half, but the Mustangs slowly pulled away late in the fourth quarter, drawing on Falcon fouls.
“Ennis was a great learning experience for us,” said Falcon head coach Josh Keller. “We were doing some great things getting the ball inside and knocking down outside shots for the first two quarters … we only scored 17 points in the second half which was the difference maker for us.”
The Mustangs were able to defend their home court, finishing the game on top, 52 – 46. Jake Knack led the charge with 22 points, capitalizing on free throws from Falcon fouls in the fourth quarter. Croy finished his night with seven points and junior Gavin McKitrick contributed nine.
Harshbarger led the way for the Falcons with 17 points and Eggers was close behind with 15.