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In NBA playoffs, it’s all about matchups

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Final Point,

By Kyle Salomon,

 

When it comes to the NBA playoffs, many people wonder why lower-seeded teams are able to compete with the higher seeds.

The answer is relatively simple. It is all about matchups in the NBA.

For instance, you look at the Oklahoma City Thunder and their series with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder is the No.2 seed in the Western Conference and considered a favorite by many experts not only to win the West, but reign victorious as the NBA champions in late June.

However, Oklahoma City finds itself tied in the first-round series with the Grizz at one game apiece and has lost the home-court advantage for now.

The Thunder put a spanking on Memphis in the opening game of the series last Saturday night, but the Grizzlies bounced back and clawed and scratched their way to a road victory Monday night in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Oklahoma City is struggling with the No.7 seeded Grizzlies because Memphis plays a style of basketball that is not conducive for what the Thunder like and need to do to be successful and win basketball games.

The Grizz slow the game down to a pace that makes the tortoise look like a speeding bullet. The Thunder like to play at a pace that makes the hare look like it’s running in mud.

Memphis wants to pound the rock inside to their two big bruising post players, Marc Gasol and Zac Randolph, who each have the ability to score from any position in the paint. This type of offense gives the Thunder fits because OKC is not built to handle an inside heavy team.

Yes, Oklahoma City will prevail in the series and advance to the next round, but it won’t be a “normal” first-round series where the higher seed makes the lower seed look like a junior high basketball team. The Thunder will be bruised and battered coming out of the Memphis series, but hopefully their young bodies will heal quickly before the quarterfinal round begins.

Another example of a classic NBA matchup that favors the Thunder is the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have been one of the best professional sports franchises in the last 16 years. It is no coincidence that Spurs forward Tim Duncan has been with the team for 16 years. Duncan is the cornerstone of the Spurs franchise, much like Kevin Durant is for OKC.

San Antonio had the best record in the entire NBA this regular season, winning 62 games and clinching home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, including the NBA Finals.

However, when it comes to playing the Thunder, the Spurs are 0-4 against their Western Conference nemesis this season. Oklahoma City brings an element of youth, athleticism and explosiveness that gives the elderly, savvy Spurs problems when they share a basketball court.

San Antonio plays a ball-movement style of offense that is predicated on the pick-and-roll screen action at the top of the key with 3-point shooters on the wings awaiting a Tony Parker kick-out for an open trey.

Several years ago, the Thunder struggled to stop this attack from the Spurs, but as Oklahoma City has matured, they have figured out how to slow down the SA offense using their length on the perimeter combined with their overall athleticism in the paint.

There is no doubt people in Oklahoma City would love to see a Spurs-Thunder matchup in the Western Conference Finals, but the folks down in San Antonio are hoping OKC gets called home from the playoffs earlier than expected.

So, if you find yourself sitting on the couch watching these NBA playoffs and wondering to yourself how Memphis can hang with the Thunder, just remember, it is all about matchups.

Baseball hangs on to defeat Midwest City

Austin Roberts Two

By Kyle Salomon,

Despite blowing an 8-0 lead early in the game, Mustang High School’s baseball team defeated Midwest City 11-10 last Saturday at Midwest City.

“We were lucky to come away with a win in that game,” Mustang head coach Scott Selby said. “We jumped on them early and then we just turned our intensity off. You can’t do that in 6A baseball. We started making errors in the field and let them back in the game.”

The Broncos offense was stout in the first four innings, putting 10 runs on the board against the Bombers.

Mustang led 10-3 after the fourth inning, but Midwest City took advantage of Bronco errors and got within one run before MHS was able to solidify the one-run victory.

Sophomore Skyler Fuller was on the mound for the first six innings of the ball game. Sophomore Brent Stephens came into the game in the seventh inning to close for Mustang. Senior Austin Harris caught all seven innings.

“Fuller pitched pretty well for us,” Selby said. “We just couldn’t make plays behind him. Thankfully, we were able to hold on for the win. It’s always good when you’re on the winning side of the scoreboard.”

The win improved Mustang’s overall regular season record to 15-13.

Earlier last week, the Broncos played a two-game district series against Choctaw. MHS hosted the Yellowjackets at home April 14 and traveled to Choctaw April 15.

Mustang split the season series with the Yellowjackets, taking the home game 10-7 and then falling on the road 8-0.

Sophomore right-hander Cade Fulton was on the mound for the Broncos in the home contest against Choctaw. Fulton got the win for MHS. Senior Austin Roberts was on the bump for Mustang in the road loss.

In the home win, the Broncos had to muster a comeback as they scored several runs in the late innings to secure the victory.

MHS was never in the eight-run defeat at Choctaw. The Broncos allowed four runs in the first inning and never got their offense going as the Yellowjackets evened the series.

“We played pretty well on Monday,” Selby said. “That was a good win for us in district play. We played horribly at Choctaw. We couldn’t do anything right in that game. We got down early and it took us out of our offensive game plan.”

Boys tennis takes fourth in conference tourney

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By Kyle Salomon,

Mustang’s boys tennis team fought its way to a fourth-place finish at the Metro Conference tournament last Saturday at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.

“I am really pleased with where we are as a team right now,” Mustang head coach Will Allen said. “It is always a challenge when you are playing on back-to-back days, but it really gives the kids a feel of what the postseason is going to be like. We are down a starter right now, so we are having several players really step up for us and contribute.”

Colby Le competed in the No.1 singles position and took fifth place overall. Tony Nguyen at the No.2 singles slot placed fourth. Jason Tsai and Damon Truong competed in the No.1 doubles position for the Broncos and grabbed third place, while Tommy Ngo and Adam Nguyen at No.2 doubles placed third.

Le took on Choctaw in the first round of the tournament, falling 4-6, 1-6. He then defeated Putnam City North 6-0, 6-0 in round two, and beat Putnam City West in his final bout 6-1, 6-2.

Tony Nguyen beat Choctaw in first-round action 7-6, 6-2. He fell to Edmond North in round two 0-6, 1-6, and dropped his final match to Yukon 0-6, 2-6.

Tsai and Truong beat Putnam City North 6-0, 6-0 in round one. The duo fell to Edmond Santa Fe 1-6, 4-6 in round two and beat Yukon in round three 6-4, 6-2.

Ngo and Adam Nguyen took out Putnam City North 6-0, 6-0 in round one. The pair fell to Edmond Santa Fe 6-4, 2-6, 7-10 in the second match and beat Yukon 6-3, 6-2 in round three.

The Bronco boys won the Del City tournament last Friday at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.

Truong took first in the No.1 singles position for Mustang, beating Christian Heritage 6-2, 6-0. He then beat Del City 6-2, 6-1 and took down Choctaw 6-1, 6-2 in the finals.

Tony Nguyen placed second overall in the No.2 singles slot for MHS. Nguyen took out Del City 6-0, 6-0 in the first round, beat Western Heights 7-5, 6-4 in round two and fell to Del City 3-6, 6-7 in the finals.

Ngo and Adam Nguyen placed first in the No.1 doubles position for Mustang. The duo took out Putnam City 6-0, 6-0 in round one, beat Choctaw 6-3, 6-3 in the second match and defeated Midwest City 6-1, 6-2 in the finals.

Tsai and Le won their bracket in the No.2 doubles slot for the Broncos. The pair beat Putnam City 6-0, 6-1 in round one, Del City 6-2, 6-1 in round two and took out Choctaw 6-3, 6-1 in the finals.

Girls tennis places second in MAC tournament

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By Kyle Salomon,

Mustang’s girls tennis team took second place in the Metro Athletic Conference tournament last Saturday at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center.

The Lady Broncos had three second-place finishes and one third-place finish on the day. Defending state champion Edmond North stole the show, winning first place in every category.

“I was really proud of the girls for how they competed against some really tough competition in the conference tournament,” Mustang head coach Dave Rankin said. “Beating teams like Yukon and Choctaw is a really good accomplishment for our girls. Edmond North is always a really tough team, but I thought we competed hard against them and made them work.”

Stevie Josie competed in the No.1 singles slot for Mustang, placing second in her bracket. She took on Putnam City West in her first outing, winning 6-0, 6-0. Josey then took out Putnam City North 6-1, 6-0 in the second round before falling in the finals to Edmond North 0-6, 0-6.

Kyndal Heath grabbed second place in the No.2 singles position. Heath took down Putnam City 6-0, 6-0 in her first bout, then defeated Yukon 4-6, 6-3, 10-5 in her second match and fell to Edmond North in the finals 2-6, 0-6.

Jessica Garner and Sarah Atkins took second in the No.1 doubles slot for the Broncos. The duo had a bye in the first round, but then took down Edmond Santa Fe 6-3, 7-6 in round two. The pair fell to Edmond North in the finals 0-6, 2-6.

Heather Underwood and Taylor Sullivan competed in the No. 2 doubles position, finishing in third place. The duo had a bye in the first round, then fell to Yukon 2-6, 4-6 in round two. The pair won their consolation third-place game against Choctaw 6-0, 6-4.

The conference wasn’t the only tournament the Bronco girls played in last week, as Mustang was the winner of the Del City tournament. All four slots took first place in the tournament for MHS.

Track teams run well at Yukon meet

Katelyn Wood and Ashley Getz One

By Kyle Salomon,

The Mustang track teams competed in the Yukon track meet last Friday at Yukon High School.

Here are the girls results from the meet:

In the 100-meter dash, Stephanie Wilson took fourth place overall with a time of 12.61 seconds. Keyona Napier finished 26th overall with a time of 13.65 seconds and Shelby Easton placed 33rd overall with a time of 14.40 seconds.

In the 200-meter dash, Ashley Getz took 20th place overall with a time of 27.75 seconds. Keyona Napier placed 25th overall with a time of 28.14 seconds.

In the 400-meter dash, Amirah Jones took fourth place overall with a time of 1:01.82. Destiny Brooks took 16th overall with a time of 1:05.25 and Katelyn Wood placed 23rd overall with a time of 1:07.49.

In the 800-meter run, Kyra Fyller took fifth place with a time of 2:28.65.

In the 1,600-meter run, Kyra Fuller took second place with a time of 5:35.36.

In the 3,200-meter run, Rachel Burchill took eighth overall with a time of 12:43.42.

In the 300-meter hurdles, Abbie Davis took 12th overall with a time of 51.77 seconds.

In the 4×100-meter relay race, Mustang took 11th place overall with a time of 52.31 seconds.

In the 4×200-meter relay, the Lady Broncos took ninth place overall with a time of 1:50.03.

In the 4×400-meter relay, the Bronco girls took seventh place overall with a time of 4:17.55.

In the 4×800-meter relay, MHS took fifth place overall with a time of 10:07.00.

In the discus throw, Paige Ketch took fifth overall with a toss of 116 feet, 3 inches.

Here are the boys results from the Yukon meet:

In the 100-meter dash, Frankie Edwards took 18th place overall with a time of 11.47 seconds and Preston Ochoa placed 32nd overall with a time of 11.76 seconds.

In the 200-meter dash, Jordan Greenspan took 23rd place overall with a time of 23.59 seconds. Kiante Miles took 32nd place overall with a time of 23.94 seconds and Skylar Nunn placed 41st overall with a time of 24.40 seconds.

In the 400-meter dash, Carter Reece took 27th place overall with a time of 55.76 seconds. Ashton Jones finished 28th overall with a time of 56.08 seconds and Taylor Robinson placed 42nd overall with a time of 59.77 seconds.

In the 3,200-meter run, Lance Frost took fourth place with a time of 10:01.27.

In the 4×100-meter relay race, Mustang took 11th overall with a time of 44.10 seconds.

In the 4×200-meter relay competition, Mustang placed 12th overall with a time of 1:32.95.

In the 4×400-meter relay, Mustang took 16th place overall with a time of 3:44.96.

In the 4×800-meter relay event, Mustang took 12th place overall with a time of 9:07.74.

In the discus throw, Jayden Ray took 13th place overall with a toss of 126 feet, 2 inches, and Tristin Hill placed 14th overall with a toss of 125 feet, 3 inches.

Igo earns All-Conference

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By Kyle Salomon,

Senior boys golfer Dylan Igo took eighth place with a 72 in the Metro Conference tournament held last Friday at Lincoln Golf Club to earn All-Conference honors for the Broncos.

The Mustang team fired a 313, with Aaron Fife finishing with a 79 in the MAC tournament. Dawson Calhoun fired an 80 in his round, Joe Larch posted an 82 and Matias Nelson closed with an 85.

“Right now our main focus is to play at our full potential,” Mustang head coach Galen Wolfe said. “We have not done that yet, but seem to be making small steps in that direction. We will be spending a lot of time on our short games the next few weeks and possibly finish strong enough to make it to the state tournament, which as a team has been a goal from the beginning.”

Wolfe said for Igo to make All-Conference for the second consecutive year is a great accomplishment.

“Dylan has made All-Conference for the second year in a row in a very tough conference,” he said. “So far, that has been the highlight of our year. Our scoring averages at this point on the year are lower than last year, but we still need to improve by about four strokes per player. If we do that we will control our own destiny.”

The Bronco boys posted a third-place finish in the Del City tournament at Trosper Golf Club, firing 322 as a team.

Igo paced the Broncos with a 79 on the day. Calhoun carded an 80 in his round, with Fife finishing with an 81, Larch with an 82 and Nelson also with an 82 for MHS.

Girls golf grabs third in Edmond, Neff takes second

Sarah Kellogg One

By Kyle Salomon,

Senior Kaylee Neff took second place overall as the Mustang girls golf team finished third in the Edmond Santa Fe pre-regional tournament at the Kickingbird Golf Club in Edmond April 16.

“We played well,” Mustang head coach Rod Henning said. “It was a preview of the regional tournament in a few weeks. We finished third as a team, but only seven strokes out of first place.”

Edmond Memorial won the tournament with a score of 345. Bishop McGuinness took second place with a 348 and the Lady Broncos fired a 352 in the blustery morning.

Alexis Sadeghy of Bishop McGuinness won the individual competition, firing a 72 in her round.

Neff took second place overall with a 79 on the day. Senior Lauren Sloan finished with an 86 in her round, which was good enough for seventh place. Senior Mackenzie Woodward posted an 88. Sophomore Cheyenne Woodward fired 99 and sophomore Sarah Kellogg closed out her round with 103.

“I was pleased to see Kaylee come back with a good performance today,” Henning said. “She struggled in our last tournament, which was out of character for her. It was good to see her get back on track and fire a 79 for us.”

Henning said the girls had to go up against some tough conditions and handled them fairly well.

“The biggest thing about the tournament is we have to learn how to handle adversity,” he said. “We had a couple of bad breaks, but then lost our composure. Golf is a game of ups and downs and you have to be able to handle adversity to play this game well. Hopefully, we learn from today and we handle those situations better in the future.”

Henning said he is pleased with the finishes his team has had up to this point, but would like to see more championships in the final few weeks of the season.

Boys soccer looks to get offensive in final games

Cutter Smith Two

By Kyle Salomon,

Before the regular season began, the Mustang boys soccer team had its sights set on a deep run in the playoffs.

Sitting at 10 games into the season and with a disappointing 3-7 overall record, the Bronco boys now find themselves trying to scratch and claw their way into a playoff berth with three games left to play.

Mustang fell at U.S. Grant 2-0 as the Generals put two goals in the back of the net in the final six minutes of the game, breaking the 0-0 tie against the Broncos.

“We must play better,” Mustang head coach Jared Homer said. “We have to get better at making in-game adjustments and playing for each other. We have three games left, in which we control our playoff hopes. We win and we’re in, we lose and we’re out.”

Offense has been a big struggle for the Bronco boys this season. They have only scored more than one goal in a game one time this year. Homer said Mustang is going to change the way it attacks with the ball.

“We are going to be more direct in these final games,” he said. “Everything is going to be moving forward and putting pressure on the defense. We will be looking to score goals in bunches these last games.”

The team defense has been solid for Mustang this season, keeping the Broncos in games when their offense was struggling.

“We must be better organized and we must be better at closing games out with our defense,” Homer said.

The situation the Mustang boys have put themselves in gives these final three games a playoff-like feeling. Homer said he expects his team to have that type of intensity.

“We have been stressing our intensity level this week in practice,” he said. “We will be stressing on what our purpose is and play like the playoffs depend on it.”

Homer said if his team will work hard and do things the right way, that good things will happen for them.

“We are struggling to find ways to win right now,” he said. “It isn’t easy to win games and we are working on building that mentality right now.”

The Broncos hosted Lawton on Tuesday on senior night for MHS soccer. They travel to Westmoore for an 8 p.m. game Friday and travel to Norman North at 8 p.m. next Tuesday for their final regular season game of the year.

Girls soccer downs U.S. Grant with ease

Jaci Jones One

By Kyle Salomon,

Three Lady Broncos scored two goals in the 8-0 win at U.S. Grant April 15 to even the Mustang girls regular season record at 5-5.

Juniors Alina Magruder and Kelsey Janko and freshman Halle Hill each scored two goals, while senior Sydni Wiles and sophomore Kelsey Bumgarner scored one goal apiece.

The Lady Broncos dominated the game from start to finish as everyone on the Mustang roster saw game action against the Lady Generals.

“We wanted to work on things that we need to work on for the rest of the season,” Mustang head coach Mike Mason said. “There are a lot of things we need to do better if we want to have a chance to make the playoffs.”

Mustang hosted Lawton Tuesday night on senior night at the Mustang High School soccer complex. They travel to Westmoore for a 6 p.m. Friday night showdown with the Lady Jaguars and then close out the regular season next Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Norman North.

The Lady Broncos must win two out of their final three games in order to make the postseason.

“We definitely feel like we are more than capable of winning two out of our last three games,” Mason said. “The girls are starting to figure some things out, especially on the offensive end of the field. They are working really hard to improve in the areas we need to improve. If we play the way we are capable of playing, we will have a chance to win all three of these last games.”

Mason said getting everyone in the game against U.S. Grant was important.

“A lot of the young girls that do not get the opportunity to play a whole lot in the games work just as hard in practice, so it is good to get them some game action,” Mason said. “It helps prepare them for the future as well.”

Seven Mustang wrestlers go to nationals, five earn All-American honors

Team One

By Kyle Salomon,

Seven Mustang High School wrestlers went to the Brute Adidas National Wrestling Tournament last weekend and five came out All-Americans.

Seniors David McCright and Gareth Ballard, junior Zach Butler and freshmen Gage McBride and Jackson McNeal finished in the top eight in their respective classes, which earned them All-American status for high school wrestling across the country.

Junior Cody Canida and freshman Alex McCright competed in the national competition, but did not place in the top eight in their weight divisions.

Mustang High School assistant wrestling coach Brad Dick took the seven Bronco grapplers to Independence, Mo.

“Having five All-Americans is a great finish to Dave Rankin’s (Mustang head wrestling coach) legacy,” Dick said. “Most of these kids are a product of Rankin and (assistant coach) Will Allen’s coaching.”

David McCright took second place overall in the 192-pound weight competition. The Mustang senior made it to the national championship bout after upsetting an undefeated wrestler out of Ohio in the semifinal round of the tournament.

Ballard had one of the toughest brackets to navigate in the event at the 138-pound weight class and took fourth place. The MHS senior earned a win against the grappler who eventually took second place in the competition. Ballard had several close matches in the tournament that could have gone either way at the end, but went to the opponent instead.

Butler competed in the 174-pound weight division where he took fourth overall. The Mustang junior made it to the semifinals where he lost on a controversial call to the grappler, who eventually went on to win the national championship.

McBride took fifth place in the 138-pound weight class. The Bronco freshman made it to the semifinal round but also lost on a controversial call in the match where he didn’t receive points that would have given him the victory. He then fell in the consolation semis to the 138-pounder from Lawton MacArthur.

McNeal took seventh place overall in the 174-pound weight class. McNeal is a freshman at Mustang and had a strong tournament showing in Independence.

Canida competed in the 143-pound weight division. Despite struggling in the win column in the event, Canida showed signs of being a strong team leader next season for the Broncos wrestling team.

Alex McCright competed in the 148-pound weight class. McCright went 0-2 in the tournament, but competed well and learned a lot going against some of the best wrestlers in the country.

“This was a great opportunity and experience for our kids that were able to go to nationals,” Dick said. “For our seniors, it was a great way for them to go out. They have done really great things with this program and building it back up to the level it is at now. For the young guys, this was a great stepping stone to next season. This shows what kind of team we can have next year and the years after at Mustang if the guys will continue to work hard and improve every day.”