Trailing heading into halftime against the 4th ranked (Class 1A-D2) Fowler Goldbugs, the Macksville Mustangs had to have been feeling that here we go again feeling.
Of the Mustangs have five losses on the season, two coming against ranked teams in higher classes, one to a ranked team in its same class and another to 4A Pratt.
So, coming out of the locker room and picking up a 68-59 road win over a good Goldbugs team was just what Macksville was looking for Friday night.
Mustangs head coach, Jeff Kuckelman said, “It’s great timing. We talked a lot about it early in the season that sooner or later we have to step up and win some of those games. We were taking good teams down to the wire and had some losses to show for it. We kept talking about it, sooner or later we have to step forward and get a win against a good team and we really feel like we did that tonight.”
“It gives us a lot of confidence. I mean we have a lot of losses to some good teams and it feels good to finally get a win over a big team, said Macksville senior guard Tanner Tranbarger.
But, like many of those close losses this game wasn’t going to come easy. Fowler jumped on the Mustangs from the start. Luke Huelskamp and Taylin Bird hit three pointers on their first two possessions as the Goldbugs began the game with an 8-2 run.
But, the Mustangs responded with an 10-2 run of their own to take their first lead of the game 12-10. Macksville would keep the lead through one quarter at 16-13.
In the second quarter, Macksville had a tough time containing the Goldbugs’ Taylin Bird. The senior guard was using the pick and roll to great effect as a lay-up and three pointer in succession regained the lead for Fowler, 22-18. He also put teammates in good positions to score, as the Bugs outscored the Stangs 20-14 in the quarter to give the Bugs a 33-30 halftime lead.
Much like when Bird found his scoring touch in the first half, the same could be said about Tranbarger for Macksville in the second half. He went on an 8-0 run by himself to give the Mustangs a 41-38 lead.
Fowler would tie the game twice soon after at 41 and 44 before Tranbarger went on another solo run, scoring the next seven for a 51-44 lead with under two to play in the third quarter.
Tranbarger said, “The first half was a little shaky, but my teammates kept telling me to take it and they have trust in me and I have trust in them.”
In the fourth, Bird tied the game at 54 all with a steal and lay-in with just under six to play, but for the final time as Macksville made the plays and free throws when they needed to in the end to pull out the road victory.
“We knew it was going to be a tough one and come down to the wire. We had confidence in ourselves though and we just went out and played our game and got it done,” added Tranbarger.
The Mustangs had three scorers reach double figures, led by Tranbarger’s 23 points. Simon Miller gave the Stangs 20 and Jordan Welch chipped in with 15. Fowler was led by Bird’s 21, with Ty Clark adding 13 points.
In the girls game, the Lady Mustangs were looking to start a win streak after stopping an 8-game skid on Tuesday, but the Lady Goldbugs had other ideas, upending them 52-37.
Macksville kept it close throughout, trailing by just seven points entering the fourth quarter, but Fowler outscored the Lady Mustangs 12-4 to close the game and push the spread to 15.
Hannah Heinz and Nikki Friesen led Fowler with 15 and 11 points respectively. The Lady Mustangs leading point getters were Sophie Filbert with 14 and Melissa Espino with 12 points.