W. Grand Mustangs finish on winning note at Meeker tourney
Sky-Hi Daily News
Playing three games in three days at the Meeker High School Invitational Tournament, the West Grand High School boys basketball team steadily improved and defeated the North Park Wildcats, 58-45, in the tournament finale.
The tournament started with a 70-44 loss at the hands of the Rangely Panthers as well as a second-round 59-44 defeat to Hayden. The Mustangs started strong against Hayden, leading 16-11 after the first quarter and 24-19 at half time. The Tigers were able to secure a 32-29 lead after the third quarter and then pull away to the victory with a 27-point final frame.
West Grand was hampered in the second half by foul trouble and eventually saw starters Connor Widener and Cory Davis foul out.
In the victory over North Park, Davis led the Mustangs in scoring with 16 points. Mackenzie Widener scored 12 for West Grand while Matt Johnson notched eight points. Rory Menhennett and Ryan Smith tallied six points apiece.
Cody Corkle of the Wildcats led all scorers with 18 points.
Coach Leo Pesch was generally pleased with the weekend but saw several points where the Mustangs can work to improve. Cutting down on turnovers and mental mistakes top the list of things to do for West Grand, he said.
In the first game, the Mustangs ran into a much-improved team from Rangely. Patrick Phelan led the Panthers in scoring with 25 points. Almost as impressive was the balanced scoring by Rangely, as five players scored from seven to nine points.
It was the first game of the year for West Grand, while the Panthers had a couple of games already in the books. It showed as Rangely came out of the gate strong, building an eight-point lead in the first quarter.
“It is a huge advantage for the team that has gotten off to an early start,” Pesch said.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the Mustangs are replacing three solid starters this season.
Mackenzie Widener led the team in scoring with 15 points while Marshall Kraker scored 14 in his varsity start. Cory Davis added 12 points to the total.
Pesch said the game with Hayden was a bit more frustrating, because the Mustangs started well and had the first half lead, before losing the lead and the game in the second half.
Mackenzie Widener was again the leading scorer, this time with 18 points. Davis scored eight points, while Matt Johnson scored seven and Ryan Smith chipped in with five points.
This week, the Mustangs travel to Granby for the Middle Park Invitational Tournament. The Mustangs will face Granby and Meeker, both of whom are playing well and are tough, Pesch said.
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