It was a battle between two Colorado River rivals that went right down to the wire. The Parker Broncs led much of the way, but, in the end, the Needles, Calif. Mustangs outlasted them for a 62-60 win Monday, Dec. 16 in Parker.
While admitting it was an exciting game, Parker Coach Rolland Hansen said the Broncs did not play well and made too many mistakes.
The game started out with the Broncs in front. They had a 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
That lead evaporated as the Mustangs tied it at 14-14 with 6:30 left in the first half. The Broncs tried to pull away, but the Mustangs caught up with them twice, at 20-20 with 3:53 left in the half and 22-22 with 3:15 left.
With 2:39 until half-time, Needles took its first lead of the game, 24-22. The Broncs put on a surge and led, 28-26 at half-time.
The third quarter saw the lead change hands several times. As an example, Luis Miller hit a three-pointer with four minutes left in the quarter to give Parker a 39-35 lead. However, the Mustangs responded with a three-pointer of their own and they made a couple of free throws to get back in front. The end of the quarter saw the game tied at 44-44.
With 5:45 left in the game, the Mustangs opened their widest lead of the game, 53-44. A surge by the Broncs brought them to within one point, 53-52, barely a minute later. With 1:50 left, the Mustangs had a 60-54 lead. The Broncs came back and Josh Openshaw made a basket to bring them within two points, 60-58, with 45.8 seconds left.
Needles made another basket and Leo Scott Jr. made a layup to make the score Needles 62, Parker 60 with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. Twice in the last two seconds, the Mustangs had a chance to ice the game with free throws. They missed both times. However, the Broncs were unable to score, and the final was Needles 62, Parker 60.
Openshaw led the Broncs with 20 points. Leo Scott Jr. had 15, Jason Rodriguez had 7 and Jesse Carillo added 6.
For Needles, Dawsen Yeager led with 24 points. Nate Chavez had 12, Ivan Stone had 10 and Daniel Felix had 9.
Hansen said he was pleased with how the Broncs fought hard at the end. However, he said their overall performance left something to be desired.
“We made too many mistakes,” he said. “We turned the ball over too many times. We missed layups and we didn’t finish.”
The Broncs had a second game last week. They defeated the Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils, 74-29, Dec. 20 in Eloy.
The Broncs are now 2-0 against 2A teams, which puts them at the top of the 2A West. They are 4-2 overall.
These two games marked the Broncs’ last games before the winter break, and their last regular season games in 2019. They’ll play in the Yvonne Johnson Memorial Tournament Dec. 27 at Camp Verde High School. Their next regular season game will be Jan. 9, 2020, when they face the Heritage Academy Heroes of Laveen at home. This will also be their first region game. Game time for varsity is 7 p.m. They’ll face the Santa Cruz Valley Dust Devils the following evening at home, again at 7 p.m.