PG : John Belardi, #12 (6’3”, Jr., PG)
SG: Andre Perris, #13 (6’3”, Sr., G/F)
SF: Jack Kresich, #10 (6’7”, Jr., F)
PF: Remington Rofer, #35 (6’8”, Jr., F/C)
C: Colby Brooks, #20 (6’7”, Sr., C)
After winning the tip, the Cubs trade scoreless possessions with Rancho Verde. Belardi gets the first points of the game with a triple at 7:00 before Rancho Verde hit two tough twos. Trailing 4-3, the Cubs give up a foul but are fortunate that the opposing shooter misses two free throws. The Cubs end the run with a half-court play that gets Kresich an open layup. Unfortunately, the Cubs foul on the other end and give up a triple, restoring the Mustang lead. At 3:12, Ferguson and Roquemore enter the game, directly preceding a Colby steal and slam. The dunk marks a 3-0 run for the Cubs. The Cubs give up a mid-range jumper from the wing but respond with a Suceveanu baseline jumper. Another baseline jumper, this time from the Mustangs, puts the Cubs down 10-13 to end the quarter.
The Cubs open the quarter with an open shot that doesn’t connect, though they force a turnover on the other end. Ferguson gets fouled on a layup attempt, hitting two of two and cutting the lead to one. The Mustangs work the ball well on offense, knocking down a three in the face of a defender. Suceveanu gets another open jumper on offense, connecting on the shot attempt and responding. The Mustangs hit yet another tough jumper from the baseline, seemingly right at home with tough shots from close range. Upon returning to the game, Brooks hits a corner three, sparking a 5-0 run to put the Cubs in front 19-18. The Mustangs come back down the floor and take back the lead off another tough shot from the paint, prompting a timeout from Coach Adams. After executing a zone defense to near perfection, the Cubs give up an offensive rebound before getting bailed out by an offensive foul. The Mustangs decide to call a timeout after nearly losing possession to a jump ball. After the break, the Cubs get lucky to not give up points off missed Mustang layups and jumpers. The Cubs do, however, earn fouls, allowing Rofer to restore the Cub lead with free throws. A controversial blocking call allows the Mustangs to hit two of their own free throws and take the lead. Holding the ball for the last shot, the Cubs are unlucky to not get a foul call on the three-point attempt.
At halftime, the Cubs’ problem is clearly quality of shot. The team has taken 14 three-point shots with only about a third of the attempts being quality looks. On the bright side, the Cubs have forced the Mustang center, the centerpiece of the Mustang offense, into foul trouble, goading him into three fouls in the first half. With higher quality shots deeper into the shot clock, the Cubs could really change the complexion of their offense.
The second half opens with the Cubs taking some better quality shots but not hitting them, made worse by the fact the Cubs don’t seem to have an answer for the Mustang center. A Parris steal and layup puts the Cubs within one, aided by a gutsy charge forced by Rofer. Belardi hits a jumper from the wing off of a pick before he steals the ball for a Cub layup. With the Cubs up 27-24, the Cubs benefit from a blocking foul, giving the Cubs another point from free throws. Beautiful Cub defense leads to a strong Brooks layup followed by a Belardi steal and score. The 9-0 run forces the Mustangs into a timeout, an important halt to what is now a 32-24 Cub lead. The Cubs make the lead ten after Parris uses a smart pump fake to hit a wing jumper. Ferguson steals the ball and takes the rock coast to coast for a layup score. The Cub defense has taken a serious leap in the second half, stomping out the Mustang offense if not for questionable officiating.
The Cubs open the quarter with two consecutive turnovers, relying on tough defense to stay in front. Kresich opens the scoring of the quarter with a corner three, courtesy of a Ferguson assist. Suceveanu gets two free throws after a beautiful no-look pass from Ferguson forces the Mustangs into a foul. Quick transition play from the Cubs ends in a Kresich layup, putting the Cubs in front 43-28. With 5:22 left in the game, the Cubs foul for the seventh time, putting the Mustangs into the bonus. With some questionable foul calls, the Cubs quickly put themselves in foul trouble. However, the Cub defense proves to be stalwart, allowing the Cubs to earn easy transition points for Brooks and Kresich. Leading 46-32 with 1:46 left in the game, Coach Adams calls a timeout to stall the frenetic pace of the game. The Cubs need to slow the game down in order to bleed the Mustangs into the loss. After the timeout, the Cubs turn the ball over but force a turnover to retain the 14-point lead. With 56 seconds left to play, the Cubs bleed the clock all the way out and take home the much deserved victory.