Just like many predicted, the Dallas Center-Grimes boys basketball team battled in a very close contest with longtime rival ADM Thursday, Feb. 27.
Thanks to a fourth-quarter push, the Mustangs overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to capture a second-round postseason victory over the Tigers 61-55. It helped to continue a huge turnaround season following an eight-win campaign last season. It was a huge win filled with emotion which was felt very strongly following the win.
“These guys are a true team,” began head coach Joel Rankin. “These guys stay after practice and put in the work and it paid off here tonight.”
The game ultimately had what any basketball fan would want. Scoring, defense, fast tempo, the game had it all and it began right from the word go. The Mustangs found a way to hold an early advantage with an 11-6 mark midway through the initial quarter. The first quarter ultimately ended with a razor-thin 15-14 DC-G lead which never really opened up too much from there. Within the back and forth nature of the contest, neither team could find more than a four-point lead over their opponent.
The second quarter provided more of the same in a tight battle. If there was anything that gave in, it happened when DC-G went on a 9-3 late second-quarter run to post a 30-24 lead late in the first half. As fate would have it though, that lead would be dropped under four points as ADM’s Jaxson Millsap drained a deep three-pointer and the Mustang lead held at 30-27 entering the halftime break.
Overall, it was the closest battle between the two squads across the third quarter of action which saw the visiting Tigers with a narrow 46-44 advantage. That capped off a strong surge by ADM who eventually brought their lead to a seven-point margin over the Mustangs early into the fourth quarter. That’s where the Mustangs kicked things into a higher gear going on a 17-9 run.
Part of the overall second-half run by the Mustangs came from their shot selection both in and outside the three-point line. Helping to kick off DC-G’s nine-point swing was senior Cody Hall. With the help of well-timed three-point shots across the fourth quarter by Hall, the Mustangs made their comeback. Even though the three-ball earned a lot of the praise, Hall himself said it was part of a bigger machine at work.
“We knew we had to keep at it,” said Hall. “Alex (Thomas) has been playing great for us and we knew we had to get it into him and work inside out from there.”
Hall ended up pacing the Mustangs on the night with 16 points followed by Trenton Liebe and Cole Glasgow who put forth 13 points each.
The win gives the Mustangs their 17th win of the season and gives them the right to head to the substate final on Monday, Mar. 2. There DC-G will be seeking to overcome their regular season fates against conference foe Norwalk. The Warriors bested the Mustangs in both regular-season match-ups including a ten-point DC-G defeat in their last battle. The game will take the Mustangs outside of Meadows Gym for the first time this postseason as the battle with Norwalk will take place inside Valley High School beginning at 7 p.m.
“The guys really did a good job at sticking to the game plan and not letting things get out of hand,” said Rankin. “It’s easy to let a run get you down mentally but these guys stood strong.”
It was a game full of skill, emotion, and noise but when all was boiled down, there was another aspect that DC-G postman Alex Thomas described as the biggest factor.
“It’s all about the intensity and I thought we really brought the intesnsity,” began Thomas. We really brought it but we didn’t let things get too high or too low and just put forth the maximum effort.”
The fact that it was against a longtime rival added even more to that, something that was quite interesting to be apart of from a player’s perspective.
“It was a lot of fun and there was such a great atmosphere tonight,” began Chase Stratton. “It was the game that we all thought might happen, very close and intense.”