After a convincing 95-64 victory at McClatchy last Friday evening, the Monterey Trail Mustangs closed out their regular season schedule on a high note and appear ready to make some noise in the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Division I boys basketball playoffs.
It didn’t take long for the Mustangs (18-10 overall, 9-3 Metro League) to take control in against the Lions (3-22 overall, 0-12 Metro League). Monterey Trail led by six points after the first quarter in large part due senior guard Andre Crump scoring 15 of his 24 points in the opening minutes of the contest, including a trio of three-pointers.
It would be their performance in the second quarter that would break the game open however, as senior forward/center Bryce Fitzgerald tallied 11 of his game-high 27 points in the period. Combine the individual scoring performances of Crump and Fitzgerald in the first two quarters, to go along with an impressive defensive effort by holding McClatchy to just five points in the second quarter, and the Mustangs were able to impose their will early.
Despite an impressive individual performance from Lions’ senior guard Elijah Rios, who scored 22 of his team-high 25 points in the second half, the defecit for McClatchy was to much to overcome as Monterey Trail was able to cruise to a comfortable 31-point victory in the second half.
Junior Teryn Morrison also chipped in 12 points for the Mustangs in the win.
“You always want to end your regular season on a high note,” Monterey Trail head coach Robert Fields said afterward. “I think we did that with this game. We were able to play everybody on the team. The guys are having a good run and everybody is having fun, so it was a good way to end our regular season.”
Following the game, a loud roar could be heard errupting from the Mustangs locker room as they celebrated making the playoffs for the first time in the past three years. Players and coaches were all smiles as they began taking in what they’ve accomplished so far this season.
“It’s amazing. it’s electrifying,” Crump said of making the postseason in his senior year. “The last three years we fell short of the playoffs, so this year we were able to end the regular season on a positive note. We’re happy and excited.”
Crump also provided insight into his recent record-breaking performance back on Feb. 6 against River City, in which he scored a school-record 50 points, including another record 10 three-pointers.
“It was amazing,” Crump said of breaking the records. “Last year when Ricky Jhajj broke it (eight three pointers), he was my closest teammate last year. We called each other Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. But ever since he broke it, it’s been my goal to break his record. As soon as the game was over I called him and told him I broke the three-point record. I was just hot and ended up breaking the scoring record. It was all good.”
The victory against McClatchy earned Monterey Trail a tie for second place in league with Burbank (19-9 overall, 9-3 Metro League). The Grant Pacers finished atop the Metro with a 21-6 overall record, including a 10-2 mark in league play, with one of those losses coming at the hands of an 85-72 victory by the Mustangs back on Jan. 23.
On Saturday, Monterey Trail held an afternoon practice and watch party for the annual CIF playoff selection show, where they would learn their fate as it pertained to their seeding within postseason play. The Mustangs were ultimately given the number eight seed, which presented them with a home court matchup against Davis on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The Citizen will have all the playoff results in the Feb. 15 edition.