Defense keys Mustang victory

Register Sports Editor

GIRARD — Iola High’s Mustangs turned up their defensive pressure in the third quarter. That paid dividends.
The Mustangs reversed a 19-18 halftime deficit into a 36-25 lead by the end of the period. They held off host Girard High’s Trojans for a 54-46 win Thursday.
“It’s a good win for us — a much needed win,” said Steve Taylor, Mustang head coach, of the non-league contest. It was a makeup game from last Friday’s snow day.
“We started the game out better than we have been and we played pretty well defensively in the first half. We only shot 1 of 10 from the field in the second quarter letting Girard take the lead.”
Taylor said after a halftime talk, the Mustangs increased their defensive pressure coming out of the break. “That allowed us to get some steals and easy baskets. We also executed much better offensively, pushing the ball up quickly.”
The Trojans trailed by 11 but wouldn’t go away in the final eight minutes. The Mustangs had to continue to score as they held off the home team down the stretch.
“The kids played hard all night. We did some good things and definitely took a step forward as a team,” Taylor said.
Taylor and the Mustangs will see how big of a step forward tonight. The Mustangs, now 3-4 overall, host league-leading and sixth ranked Coffeyville (5-0) in Southeast Kansas League play. Iola is 2-4 in league action.
Charles Apt paced the Mustangs Thursday with 16 points and seven rebounds. Michael Middleton added 11 points, going 6 of 8 at the free-throw line.
Seth Walden fired in 10 points as he was 4 of 4 at the line. Overall, the Mustangs dropped in 18 of 26 free throw attempts and shot 37 percent, 17 of 46, from the field.
Girard got 13 points from Preston Samuels and 12 from Reid Murphy. The Trojans were 11 of 18 at the line.
Iola’s junior varsity notched a 50-39 win led by Christian Kauth’s 14 points.
Girard won the freshman game 41-31. Mason Coons had 15 points and Levi Ashmore had 13 for Iola.
The Mustangs learned Thursday that they are the No. 7 seed in next week’s Burlington High Invitational at Burlington. They play second-seeded Burlington (6-1) at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in the first round.
The game is in the BHS gym. Win or lose Tuesday, the Mustangs will play again at 8:15 p.m. Friday.
Iola (12-6-18-18—54) (FG/3-pt): Cl. Heffern 0-1-1-1, Ch. Heffern 1-0-1-2-2; Toland 2-4-3-8, D. Walden 1-0-3-2, S. Walden 3-4-0-10, Apt 5/1-3-2-16, Middleton 1/1-6-4-11, Peterson 2-0-4-4. TOTALS: 15/2-18-18-54.
Girard (9-10-7-20—46) (FG/3-pt): Snyder 0-0-2-0, Eckelberry 0-0-1-0, Foraker 1-4-2-6, Bauer 4-1-5-9, Samuels 3/1-4-1-13, Cherry 1-0-4-2, O’Brien 1-0-3-2, Murphy 6-2-3-14. TOTALS: 16/1-11-21-46.