By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
HUGOTON –The Southwestern Heights Mustangs dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Stratford Elks 27-9 in the period on their way to a 59-43 win.
Junior Herrera and Ben Johnsrud harassed Stratford ball handlers all night with each recording four steals a piece. Johnsrud was also big in transition in the second quarter, scoring 9 of his 12 points in the quarter. Jeff Dutton was hot from the perimeter, hitting three of his four three-pointers in the second quarter. He finished the game with 16.
"We really wanted to get out and pressure the ball," said Mustangs coach Nefro Saucedo. "We don't have anybody that is huge so we like to run the floor with our big guys, and take advantage of our speed."
With that second quarter spurt Heights took a commanding 42-17 lead into the halftime locker room. Through most of the third quarter the lead stayed about the same, with the Mustangs leading 48-24 with 2:15 left in the third. But Stratford kept it interesting by going on a 13-0 run that cut the 24-point cushion down to just 11 with 6:38 left in the fourth.
"Some of that is just our inexperience," said Saucedo. "Some of it is just a need to build up the confidence of a group that won five games last year. It's early we are still a work in progress."
But the Mustangs were able to put the brakes on any further come back, and led 54-39 with 2:53 left. A big reason was feeding the ball inside to Clayton Chase who scored 9 of his game-high 17 in the fourth, and finished the game with 9 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Heights controlled the tempo early in the game, and led 9-3 midway through the first quarter. But Stratford tightened it back up to 15-11 by the end of the first before Heights blew the game wide open in the second.
With the win Heights advanced to the consolation game Saturday against Perryton, Texas.