The battle for basketball supremacy in Airdrie heated up Jan. 16, with the George McDougall Mustangs knocking off the Bert Church Chargers 80-65.
The win brings the Mustangs to 2-1 this season, while the Chargers fall to 2-1 in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA). The hunt is still on to take first from the 3-0 Cochrane Cobras.
“We’re ecstatic…. The boys have been working hard,” said Mustangs head coach Nathan Lee, adding the team keyed in on its defence to take the matchup.
The early stages of the first quarter was a feeling-out process between the two offensively-gifted squads as both teams exchanged points early and often with the Chargers getting the early advantage, climbing to a 16-12 lead after 10 minutes.
The Chargers continued to hold a slim lead over its cross-city rivals, utilizing turnovers and quick transitions to take a 37-33 lead heading into halftime.
“I didn’t feel like we were executing at both ends of the floor like we had been in the past,” Chargers head coach Mike Sera said.
“We found ourselves flat-footed and not moving, just waiting for someone else to do something first.”
Lee said his team came into the game with some nerves going against the then-undefeated Chargers, but started to feel their game come around as the clock ticked down to halftime.
In the second half, the game took a complete 180 with the Mustangs offence taking control of the game. In the key, players like Tommy Titterington, Ethan Smith and Jaiden Pannu utilized their size and strength to put home loose balls for easy points.
The Mustangs also found success with the three-point ball, driving towards the backboard, finding an open outlet pass and hitting Caleb Lee, Jamis Mulholland or Carter Sawby for easy three-point shots.
“We saw their 3-2 zone, and with that you want to collapse the zone so we had the open looks,” Lee said.“When we saw more of that, we were able to produce.”
The Chargers failed to respond to the Mustangs onslaught and its lead diminished to a 58-51 deficit in the third quarter. Defensively, the Chargers couldn’t contain the Mustangs attack in the fourth en route to its first setback of the year.
“It’s disappointing to drop any game in all honesty, whether it’s George McDougall or anybody, it doesn’t really matter – especially when we didn’t feel like we played our best,” Sera said. “Full credit to McDougall, they were firing on all cylinders and they were a little more hungry than we were.”
Due to school exam schedule, the RVSA shuts down for a week, with teams returning to action Jan. 31. The Chargers head to Chestermere for a matchup with the Lakers that day, while the Mustangs will be on their bye week and will return to the court Feb. 7, when it takes on the Lakers.
With such a spotty schedule, Lee said it can be difficult for his team to get on a positive roll, but feels his team is motivated to continue the current trend and are rounding into the form the defending RVSA champions should be in.