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Mustangs go 2-and-2, see two named to All-Tournament Team at Mohave Shootout

December 28, 2017 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — Needles’ Mustangs varsity basketball team went 2-for-2 and saw two players named to the All-Tournament Team in Mohave High School’s Holiday Shootout in the House of Thunder Dec. 22 and 23.

Semaj Howell and Irving Juarez were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Needles’ boys bested Kingman Academy 33-43 and Casa Grande 71-64 before losing to River Valley 54-50 on Friday. Saturday saw Calvary Chapel take the win 63-37 in the boys’ single game.

The interior of the home of the Thunderbirds was colder than the exterior, Saturday, when the Mustangs faced off with Calvary Chapel. The temperature extended to the shooting as Needles put just seven, and Calvary just eight, points on the board in the first quarter. Senior Irving Juarez’ shooting began to thaw toward the end of the second, as did that of Blake Box and JJ Robonson of Calvary which finished up 26-21 at the half. Until Juarez shook the ice off most of the points had come from Howell who repeatedly took the pass, attempted the post up then went to the line after the inevitable foul. He wound up going 8-for-12 from the charity stripe in the first three quarters.

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Needles’ shooters felt the chill again in the third, scoring 10 to Calvary’s 21. Except for Dillon Darrow’s two buckets and a couple of free-throws from Doogie Harvey, they froze in the fourth when Calvary outscored them 16-6.

Juarez accounted for an even dozen in the game, Harvey 11, Howell 8. Collectively, the boys shot 57 percent from the line.

Calvary’s Box — No. 33 who stands a half-head taller than Needles’ 6’3” Harvey and Howell and has arms to match — scored 18; Robonson 14 — including 6-for-6 from the stripe, Paul Yoo 13 and Dylan Sims 11.

Needles’ started strong against their cross-river rivals the night before but fell in the fourth period of their third game of the day. The Mustangs led River Valley 16-8 in the first, 31-26 at the half and 44-38 after three quarters before the Dust Devils tallied 16 to Needles’ six in the final stanza.

Howell scored a game-high 15, Juarez 12, and Marcus Mills 10, including three three-pointers; but the boys could only manage seven for 22 at the line. River Valley’s N. Vargos and A. Rodriguez scored 11 each and the team shot 5-for-10 at the stripe.

Casa Grande was a game for the fans: knotted at 23 after one and 38 at the half. The Arizona school stalled in the third when Needles’ outscored them 17 to seven, then rallied in the fourth to add 19; seven short of the Mustangs.

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Juarez blistered the buckets for 29 points in that game, Howell added 11, Darrow and Harvey nine each; the team shot 56 percent from the line. Casa Grande’s two Carlos: G, No. 20 and M, No. 3, scored 25 and 17 respectively. The team went 6-for-7 at the stripe.

The opener against Kingman Academy started at a glacial pace with Needles leading 4-to-2 after one, 16-13 at the half. The Mustangs added a dozen to Kingman’s six in the third, and 15 to their 14 for the win.

Harvey led the scoring with 14, including 4-for-6 from the line; Howell shot 6-for-6 from the line on his way to 10 total; and Jayden Yeager scored nine. They shot just shy of 70 percent at the stripe. Kingman’s N. Perea and B. Hecker scored nine each.

Mustang Head Coach Pat ‘Woody’ Woodburn commented that his team was down two starters while Bill Darrow, athletic director, added that several were playing with injuries. Still, “the kids played their hearts out,” Woodburn said, “they just couldn’t make their shots.”

He pointed with pride to the team’s 11-5 overall record so far this season; 3-for-3 in the NIAA 2A South; and with even more pride to the selection of Juarez and Howell — a sophomore — to the All-Tournament Team on Saturday.

“We’ve got 10 tough league games” coming up in the new year, Woodburn reported: “Everybody will be back after Christmas. We’ll be okay.”