Mustang girls earn comeback win
By halftime, Midway-Minto girls’ head coach Randy Rice had seen enough. His team was in the midst of an upset loss to the Park River-Fordville-Lankin Aggies and the Mustangs seemed intent on handing it over. At halftime, Rice had a little chat with his girls.
“I told them to just quit beating yourself, take care of the basketball and get out there and play the way you can,” he said.
The Mustangs, down by as many as seven points to a team they defeated by 27 points two weeks earlier, regrouped and went on to a 55-44 win.
In the first half it was the inside game of the Aggies that had the Mustangs on their heels. Brogan Novak scored eight first-half points while Morgan Porter and Sadie Vold chipped in with buckets to help the Aggies to a slow but steady lead.
The Mustangs hung tough, thanks in part to a couple of big baskets by senior Katie Bartuska and a three-pointer by Mackenzie Irwin.
Helen Schuster completed a first quarter comeback when she sank a pair of free throws near the end of the first stanza to give the Mustangs their first lead of the game, 12-11.
PR-F-L regained the lead early in the second quarter on back-to-back baskets by Novak. From there it went back and forth until the Mustangs began their charity mission, handing the ball over to the Aggies on four straight possessions.
Whitney Carlson hit a three-pointer with two minutes to play in the half, to give the Aggies a 22-17 lead.
A steal and bucket Ashley Fontaine pushed the PR-F-L lead to seven with under a minute to play. A buzzer beater by Bartuska salvaged a less than stellar first half performance and the Mustangs trailed by just four, 24-20.
The second half was a different story for both teams. While the Aggies were solid in the first half, the third quarter proved to be their demise.
PR-F-L hit only one field goal in the quarter to go along with three free throws, but it wasn’t for lack of good opportunities. The Aggies missed eight bunnies inside in the quarter and it afforded the Mustangs a chance to run. “We just couldn’t get the ball in the hole,” Aggie coach Rob Scherr said after the game. “We had good looks but those misses really hurt us.”
Midway-Minto went on a 10-1 run on plays created more by hustle than execution. The Mustangs had hands everywhere, taking the ball from Aggie ball handlers or rebounders at every opportunity. Bartuska and Irwin both picked up hustle baskets and in a turnaround from the first half and Mustangs nailed six of six free throws over the last four minutes of the third to take a 34-29 lead after three.
The offensive slide stopped for the Aggies in the fourth as they found the bottom of the net once again but the Mustangs were relentless.
A three-pointer to start the fourth by Kelsey Altendorf and a quick basket by Rachel Olson pushed the Mustang lead to 39-29.
Fontaine scored five straight for the Aggies before Bartuska hit a long three from the left wing. Altendorf scored again to get the Mustang lead back to 10 points. With 4:15 to play, the Aggies mounted a comeback. A three-pointer by Whitney Carlson and back-to-back baskets by Claire Welch and Vold had the Aggies down by just three, 44-41, with three minutes to play.
However, the last three minutes belonged to the Mustangs. Irwin scored off the glass for two and then hit a nail in the coffin three-pointer to push the Mustang lead back to eight. Bartuska sank the final nail home when she hit a three-pointer in the final minute as the Mustangs won it going away 55-44.
Fontaine led all scorers in the game with 17 points, followed by Novak with eight and Morgan Porter with seven. Carlson added six points for PR-F-L, followed by Vold with four and Welch with two.
Katie Bartuska led the Mustangs with 15 points, followed by Irwin with 14. Rachel Olson added nine for M-M, followed by Altendorf with seven, Dominique Martinez with six and Schuster with four.