It was a matchup of the top two teams in Region IV Division I, but it was unbeaten Mumford who was the best team on the court Saturday afternoon as the No. 2 Mustangs topped the No. 6 Milano Eagles 64-47 in the regional tournament championship in front of 1,200 fans at Canyon High School’s Cougar Den gym.
The victory punches Mumford’s first ticket to the state tournament in school history. It is just the district’s 10th year to compete on the varsity level with boys basketball.
The 36-0 Mustangs will face No. 17 Kerens (24-8) at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Frank Erwin Center in the state semifinals.
Mumford had been to t he regional finals in 2010, losing to Spurger in what most thought would be the Mustangs’ first trip to Austin.
Last season the Eagles (32-2) beat Mumford in the area round by a shot at the buzzer. Milano then fell to Evadale in the regional quarterfinals. Evadale would make it to the state tournament.
“It was going to happen,” Mumford coach Chris Sodek said. “We just had to keep working. We’ve taken another step as a basketball program. It’s a big step. We’re going to play in the state tournament, and this is really only our 10th year of varsity competition.”
The teams were tied up at 11 each after the first quarter. Milano’s Jacob Willingham would hit two free throws with 6:35 left in the second quarter to put the Eagles up 13-11. It would be the last lead Milano would have.
Mumford would then shoot the lights out, outscoring the
Class A Division I
Mumford (36-0) vs Kerens (24- 8) 10 a.m.
Clarksville (29-5) vs. Olton (27- 8), 8:30 a.m.
Championship— Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Eagles 19-9 in the second frame. Sophomore sensation Aubrie King would hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to put the Mustangs up 30-20 at the half.
“Mumford is a good team with a lot of weapons. They are a great shooting team that got rolling in the second quarter,” Milano head coach Robbie Robinson said. “Being down by 10 at half, we re-grouped in the locker room and played a valiant second half, only to fall short in our bid for the state tournament.”
Senior guard Jordan Melton hit a three pointer at the buzzer and then hit three more behind the arc in just over 90 seconds to get the Eagles to as close as 55-45 with 3:39 left in the game.
Josh Sustaita would hit a three to answer and Robert Galicia would snag a steal and get a basket to take away Milano’s momentum and put Mumford up 60-45.
The Mustangs would play a spread out game of keep away the final two minutes, clinching their ticket to Austin.
Melton led the Eagles with 12 points, followed by John Jentsch, Dominique Messer and Willingham each scoring 11. Toby Sanders added two points.
King had 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Freshman LaKendrick Hyson had 15 points, followed by Galicia with 14 points. Sustaita and Quincy Lewis had each, with Lewis adding seven boards.
SEMINFINAL—Sparked by Sanders’ 22-point performance, Milano came from behind to defeat No. 16 Port Aransas (23- 13) 62-53 on Friday in the region semifinals to reach Saturday’s championship game.
Jentsch added 21 points and 19 boards to help propel the Eagles to the win. Messer added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Eagles had a rough second quarter against the Marlins, finding themselves down 33-26 at the break. But Milano’s clutch defense rallied again as they overcame a double-digit effort at one point to reach the title game.
Milano was also very aggressive on the boards, out rebounding Port Aransas 56-36.
Milano’s fourth-quarter rally was fueled by Sanders where he made two baskets from beyond the arc and cut to the basket around Marlin defenders two other times for 10 points in the final period.
Port Aransas junior guard Tyler Pate—who averaged 26 points a game coning in—had 28 points in the game, with 22 in the first half.
“He (Pate) could create off the dribble as well as shoot the three from NBA range,” Robinson said. The Eagles defense, especially Melton, shut him down in the third and fourth quarters.
“Jordan’s got quick feet and quick hands,” Robinson said. “He takes pride in his defense and it showed in the second half. That was huge.”
That clutch defense paired with key shots from John Jentsch helped seal the deal for Milano. With 4: 47 left and the game tied at 45-45, Jentsch scored six straight points to put the Eagles ahead for good.
Mumford defeated a tough Sabinal team 68-49 in the first semifinal of the regional tournament on Friday. Hyson led the Mustangs with 21 points and 13 rebounds. King had 13 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists, with Lewis adding 12 points.
Eagle teams have reached the regional tournament four previous times in school history, the most recent being 1997 when they lost in the regional finals to eventual state champion Moulton.
Milano also reached regionals in 1951, 1977 and 1981. In 1951, the first year UIL recognized basketball as a sanctioned sport, the regional tournament was the furthest a team could go. Milano lost that year in the regional finals 33-32 to Big Sandy.
‘MAGICAL’ SEASON—“This season was a magical one. Thirty two wins and only two losses is quite an accomplishment, one these young men will not soon forget,” Robinson said. “John Jentsch and Jordan Melton were the only two seniors on the squad and will be sorely missed, but with a good nucleus of lettermen returning, the Eagles look to next season with anticipation.
“The team should be proud of themselves. The entire community of Milano should be proud of them, as well. I am truly proud to say that I was a part of this special season.”
The 32 wins this season is the most ever in school history for the boys basketball squad at Milano.
Besides the loss to Mumford, the only other blemish on the Eagles’ record this season was a 61-59 overtime loss to Fayetteville in the Dime Box tournament on Dec. 2. Fayetteville lost in the regional quarterfinals of the Class A Division II state playoffs. They were second in 29A-II to Calvert, who has also made it to the state tournament.