By Clint Andersen
The Gordon-Rushville Mustangs defeated the Bridgeport Bulldogs 52-47 in district play Tuesday in Alliance to advance to the C1-12 district final.
In a game that was a story of two very different halves, the Mustangs relied on hot shooting Italian exchange student Daniele Marozzi to bolt to a 34-18 halftime lead. Marozzi was in fiamme (Italian for “on fire”) in the first quarter as he erupted for 15 points in the opening period. The Mustangs quickly took control and ended the quarter with a 21-12 lead.
With the Bulldog defense keying on Marozzi, opportunities began to open up for the other Mustang shooters. Six Mustangs scored in the second quarter and the defense held Bridgeport scoreless for more than five minutes in the quarter and then held them to only six points. This was the most dominant first half of the season and set the Mustangs up for what should have been an easy second half and a comfortable win. However, Bridgeport didn’t get the memo.
Bridgeport came out of the halftime break and began chipping away at the Mustang lead with full court pressure and an effective defense that limited the Mustangs to only three third quarter field goals. The third quarter ended 42-30 in favor of the Mustangs, but a furious fourth quarter comeback by the Bulldogs made the game very close at the end. The Mustangs saw their lead evaporate slowly throughout the quarter and with 33 seconds left, Bridgeport cut the lead to just two points at 49-47, but Daniele Marozzi got his hand on a Bulldog pass, causing a turnover with 20 seconds to go and the Mustangs made key free throws to seal the win.
The Mustangs’ leading scorer was Danile Marozzi with 22 points. Marcus Fairhead added 10 points, Kalen Coats, 9, Joe Jacobsen, 6, Renen Sahr, 3, and Barry Toczek, 2. The win set up a rematch with the Kimball Longhorns in the C1-12 district final on Thursday night in Alliance.