By Clint Andersen
The Gordon-Rushville Mustangs squared off against the Kimball Longhorns on Thursday night in Alliance to determine the C1-12 district champion.
The Longhorns had twice defeated the Mustangs in regular season play – a three point loss on Kimball’s home floor and a 69-33 thrashing in the Western Trails Conference championship game. The Mustangs took the floor on Thursday night determined to avenge their earlier losses, but came up short 57-47.
The Mustangs went toe-to-toe with the Longhorns in the first half, but with the Mustangs leading 19-18, an injury to Joe Jacobsen left the Mustangs without a key contributor for the remainder of the game. Kimball scored on their next possession and never trailed again and led at the half 34-29. Kimball’s 6’5” Mike Daum scored 13 points in the first quarter and teammate Jacob Reader scored 8 in the second, but the Mustang defense did a tremendous job of shutting them down after the break as they scored only nine points between them in the second half. Unfortunately, without Jacobsen the Mustangs had a hard time getting their offense in gear, generating only 8 third quarter points.
Both teams had difficulty scoring throughout a defensively-dominated second half. Ultimately, the size and physical nature of the Kimball frontcourt made the difference by limiting Mustang rebounds and preventing the second-chance points that have become such a big part of their scoring attack this season. Kimball extended their lead to 48-37 at the end of the third quarter. The Mustangs battled throughout a very physical fourth quarter, but couldn’t make up enough ground as the final score read 57-47.
Five seniors played their final game for the Mustangs and left all they had on the court. Marcus Fairhead, Daniele Marozzi, Joe Jacobsen, Renen Sahr, and Kalen Coats represented Gordon-Rushville well in their last appearance. Renen Sahr was the leading scorer with 15 points, Marcus Fairhead scored 13, Kalen Coats added 12, Daniele Marozzi, 5, and Kyle Anderson and Barry Toczek each scored 1.
The Mustangs finish the season with 13 wins against 9 losses. After a slow start to the season that saw the Mustangs lose five of their first seven games, they lost only four contests the rest of the season while winning eleven and twice they had winning streaks of four games. Congratulations to the Mustangs for an outstanding season!