Waterville/Mansfield boys let big lead slip away in loss to Mustangs

By David Heiling
The Empire Press

BRIDGEPORT — After a big win against a stellar Tonasket team on Dec. 12, the Waterville/Mansfield boys basketball team sputtered in a road loss to the host Bridgeport Mustangs 63-60 on Dec. 15.

The Shockers got out to a big first quarter lead after scoring a ridiculous 25 points in the first quarter, but the Mustangs started to chip away at the lead in the middle two quarters. Waterville/Mansfield led by two points heading into the final frame after Bridgeport outscored the visiting team by five points in the second and four points in the third.

“They played man there in that first quarter so we countered with a pick-and-roll type offense,” Shockers coach Heath Jordan said after the game. “Once they switched to a zone, that’s when we started having problems. We started throwing away turnovers against the zone. They made the game up-tempo and we turned the ball over which led to easy baskets for them.”

It appeared as though the Shockers ran out of gas, and the team trailed by as many as eight points in the final frame, but Jordan said he was impressed with how his team never stopped working and never gave up.

“It was our eighth game in 15 days, on the road, but that’s no excuse,” Jordan said. “You have to bring your game every night no matter what. We were down by like eight points there late after Bridgeport was able to hit a few crucial 3-pointers to extend their lead over us and we just couldn’t whittle our way back into it.”

Waterville/Mansfield scored in double digits in all four quarters as the team’s offense continues to run through senior Johnny Mullen. Despite the consistency in scoring, Jordan said there is always room to improve.

“We need to continue to advance our offense so we don’t get stagnant,” Jordan said. “We need to advance our offense, sets, quick-hitters, and we need to become more consistent shooting from the perimeter.”

Top scorers for Waterville/Mansfield were Mullen (23 points), Jacob Stibal (16 points) and Devyn Klinginsmith (10 points).