Sunday, August 3, 2008

VEGAS: Mustangs 16's

The Mustangs 16-u team traveled to Las Vegas shorthanded but they guys were able to string together a 4-2 record which included an appearance in the "sweet 16".

The trip started bumpy for the Stangs in their first pool game as they didn't score a single point till nearly 10 minutes had ticked off the clock. The slow start was the cause of a double digit lost to 43 hoops out of Minnesota. The Mustangs bounced back with two double digit wins of their own to close out pool play and take the #2 seed going into bracket play. The wins were keyed by the post play of 6-8 Alex Gauna and 6-5 CJ Olaniyan. The inside duo were relentless on the boards which sparked the transition play for the Stangs.

The Mustangs topped Seattle Rotary 51-42 in the first round. Playing well against Seattle was Sultan "Showtime" MoMohammad, Juwan Howard Jr., and Matt Kamieniecki. The team was without a "true" point guard but the trio did a solid job of playing point guard by committee.

In the second round the Mustangs faced a huge test against the heavily favored Atlanta Celtics. Them boys from the ATL jumped out to quick double digit lead but the Stangs got tough and went inside to their muscle, particularly Gauna who displayed an array of post moves that gave him constant trips to the free throw line. The Stangs were able to cut the half time deficit to two points. In the second half the two teams continued to lock horns but the Mustangs had no answer for the Celtics' Jordan McRae. McRae, a 6-5 slashing combo guard with plenty of bounce, got to the basket and scored at will.

A late turnover by the Celtics allowed the Mustangs to tie the game off of a Gauna basket and force overtime. In OT the teams traded baskets back and forth. A free throw by McRae gave the Celtics a 70-69 lead with 6 seconds to play. Juwan Howard took the inbounds pass and went the distance of the court and without hesitation he pulled up and burned a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win.

The emotional win advanced the Mustangs into the "sweet 16" but there the Stangs were overwhelmed by the Playaz and 6-2 point guard Isiah Epps. Epps bombed the Stangs with 35 points in the 76-53 defeat.

The overall out take for the Mustang 16's Vegas experience was a good one! They did manage to put together the 4-2 record without a "true" point guard nor without Jon Horford. The top two overall performers for the Stangs were Howard and Gauna but players like Kamieniecki, Devin Oliver, and Showtime proved they are D-1 worthy.

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