Muckers clinch fifth place seed in playoffs

Last Friday the Tonopah Muckers men’s basketball team traveled to Las Vegas to face the Adelson School Lions, leader of the Division 4 Southern League, and lost 67-45.

It was the last league game of the regular season, which leaves the Muckers with a current record of 4-4 in league. Once at home, the team took revenge on Beaver Dam by defeating them 48-44. In their last meet, the Arizona squad had beaten the Muckers 35-44.

Muckers could do little to stop Adelson, an aggressive team that has not lost a single league game in the regular season so far, and whose current record is 14-1, 6-0 in league. One of the Lions’ strengths are their three-point shooters, which were an additional complication for the Muckers.

Muckers Coach Joe Westerlund recognized after the game that Adelson’s aggressiveness caught them by surprise. Additionally, Muckers’ offense didn’t work as expected.

“Our offense never got into a groove,” he said. “Our offense turned the ball over 26 times and our defense only forced 7 turnovers in the whole game,” Westerlund explained.

The Muckers were able to play Tyler Gallegos after a one-game suspension. Once again he became the leader of this team. “He was critical because Tyler was our leading scorer, rebounder, and shot-blocker,” Westerlund said.

Connor Friel also played a big role in the team’s offense along with Jimmy Withers. On Saturday, the two led Tonopah’s squad to victory against Beaver Dam. Although this was not a league game, this win was for respect.

“The players learned how to play in a clutch situation. Winning in double-overtime gives the team a great confidence boost,” he said.

Westerlund summarized the season. He said the team’s defense was one of its strengths.

“Our defense has been improving in every game and our defense has kept us in almost every game,” he said.

This Saturday will be senior night and the coach said he wants a victory for all of the seniors.

“It’s senior night and we need to win the game to have momentum on our side going into playoffs,” Westerlund admitted.

The team is currently in fifth place and will be watching to see if Beatty or Pahranagat Valley joins the party on Friday. Both are tied for sixth place and only the top six teams advance to the playoffs.