West Grand boys play last regular season games of the year in Kremmling
Sky-Hi Daily News
The West Grand Mustangs easily handled North Park on Thursday night, Feb. 7, in a 67-48 win over the winless Wildcats.
Inclement weather forced the Mustang basketball teams to spend the night in the North Park gymnasium and then travel back home on a snowy Friday afternoon. By the time the game rolled around on Saturday against Rangely, the visiting Panthers appeared to be the more well-rested team.
Rangely led at all of the quarter stops and finished the game with a 64-44 victory. The long range game for West Grand was clicking, as Mackenzie Widener hit five three-pointers and Rory Menhennett added three of his own long-range bombs.
“Against a team like Rangely, you can’t have any breakdowns,” coach Leo Pesch said. “They take advantage of every opportunity. Their guards are quick and their big men run the floor well.”
The Panthers have excellent balance with an outside game led by Patrick Phelan, who scored 15 points and Tim Willis who added eight points. Their inside game is led by 6 foot, 4 inch Michael Morton, who scored 20 points. He was particularly effective in the second quarter when his 13 points helped the Panthers outscore the Mustangs 24-8. Throw out that quarter, and West Grand was within seven points of the Panthers.
Widener led the team in scoring with 15 points while Menhennett scored nine points and Kraker and Connor Widener scored eight points apiece.
For the Mustangs, it was the final regular season game for seniors Mackenzie Widener, Cory Davis, Marshall Kraker, Rory Menhennett and Louie Farrell.
Widener and Davis are three-year starters for coach Leo Pesch and the trio of Widener, Davis and Kraker have scored the bulk of the points for West Grand this year.
Widener is a deadly outside shooter and has a knack for being able to score against bigger players. Davis is a hard-nosed player who is versatile enough to shoot the three-pointer, handle the ball against the press and then post up for points in the paint. Kraker has developed into a solid rebounder. As a scorer, he is particularly effective on putbacks off of offensive rebounds.
Menhennett is in his second-year with the basketball program and he has developed into a solid defender for the Mustangs and a shooter with a soft touch from three-point territory. Farrell is in his first year of basketball for West Grand and his hustle and scrappy play have made him a favorite of Mustangs fans.
“I will miss these senior players,” Pesch said. “They work extremely hard and there are times when they move the ball and shoot the ball as well as any team in the league.”
Prior to the Rangely game last week, it was a much different story on Thursday against the Wildcats of North Park. The Mustangs were able to race up and down the floor against North Park and seven different West Grand players found a way to score.
Kraker led the way with 17 points, while freshmen Connor Widener and Tim Ritschard scored 12 points apiece. Davis scored nine points and Mackenzie Widener added seven points.
The Mustangs have developed a style of play that incorporates a lot of passing and motion. Players often look to make the extra pass to set up good shots. For North Park, Coby Corkle led the team with 18 points while Mason Darrell scored 12 points and Wade Allnut added 10 points. The Wildcats are hampered by the fact that they have a total of only seven players on the squad.
This weekend, the Mustangs have back-to-back league games, both on the road.
They travel to Plateau Valley on Friday night and then finish the regular season against Paonia on Saturday. For the season, West Grand has an overall record of 8-8 and a record of 2-4 in league play.
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The Mustangs cross country team trudged through a muddy 5K Saturday morning during the West Grand Invitational, a race that slowed times but sent the fun factor through the roof for many of its competitors.