In a battle between two Airdrie squads, it was the more experienced George McDougall Mustangs taking a convincing 88-64 victory over the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers Dec. 12.
Coming off of a disappointing loss to open the 2017-18 Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) season against the Cochrane Cobras Dec. 6, the Mustangs were a team determined to bounce back before the holiday break.
“We felt coming into the game that we were the better team…so coming and pulling off the win was a big boost for our team,” said Mustangs head coach Nathan Lee.
For the second time in as many games, the Mustangs started the matchup on the slow side, allowing the Cavaliers to take an early advantage on the defending RVSA Champions with a 16-12 in the opening of the first quarter.
The Mustangs offence found its groove in the closing minutes of the quarter, outscoring the Cavaliers 14-2 and taking a 26-18 lead.
“We’re coming out flat. Obviously, that’s not the way we want to be playing,” Lee said. “We’ve seen what happened before when we start late and have to work our way out of a deficit.”
It was the Cavaliers that outscored the Mustangs in the second quarter, putting up 22 points to George McDougall’s 21 to close the gap to seven points, but that would be as close as they would get in the loss.
Just like it had in its first matchup this season, the Mustangs took control of the game after making halftime adjustments and forcing the Cavaliers to utilize perimeter shots and limiting the driving backboard shots the team had success with in the first half. With a much more stingy defensive effort, the Mustangs put up another 21 points while giving up 17 in the third and completely taking over in the fourth.
Putting up 20 points, but limiting the Cavaliers to just seven in the final 10 minutes led to the 88-64 victory and the first win of the season for the Mustangs. The winless Croxford saw its record drop to 0-2.
Although his team has proven to be a force coming out of halftime in back-to-back games, Lee said he would much rather his team start games as strong as they have finished them.
“It comes down to a question of what motivates the boys,” Lee said. “Getting ahead and keeping ahead can be a huge motivator. But coming from behind, you have nothing to lose, you just lay it all out.
“Personally, as a coach, I never want to get behind. I always want to make sure that we’re staying ahead. I would think that would be the best approach.”
For the Cavaliers, this game played out similarly to how its first game against the Bert Church Chargers went, with the Cavs taking an early lead against a much more experienced squad, but struggling to hold the lead and falling into too deep of a deficit in the later stages of the game.
Despite the loss, Cavaliers head coach Jade Chausse said her team was much more prepared for this game and came in motivated after dropping its decision to the Chargers.
“Mentally, we were tougher today and a bit more disciplined. But it’s early on in the season, we have lots of room to grow,” Chausse said. “We need to work on discipline, staying in control, keeping calm and executing. They really capitalized on our mistakes.”