NIXON — A playoff-contending team wins a game they’re up 48-43 with 27.4 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately, the Nixon-Smiley Mustangs, who are still without a district victory, didn’t win that game, giving up seven straight points to lose 50-48 in regulation against the Yoakum Bulldogs who before last Friday night also didn’t have a District 27-3A win.
When asked whether this was still signs of inexperience and youth, Nixon-Smiley head coach Carlton McKinney believed it was more than that.
“I would love to blame it on that, but we went over that [possession] in the timeout prior and some point the kids got to do the right thing,” he said. “I applaud their effort at times…there’s a reason we practice and work on the things we work on as a team. I tell them all the time it’s extremely important you don’t deviate from the plan because nobody else knows what you’re doing and that’s kind of what happened late in the ball game.”
Benito Perez was fouled with the Mustangs up 47-43. After making one of his two free throws, the Bulldogs went down the court and shot a three to cut the lead to two. A turnover on an inbound pass led to a two-point attempt that was rebounded by the Bulldogs then put back up to tie the game 48-48. Another turnover on an inbound and the Bulldogs again put the ball back up, again scoring as time expired, stealing the game away 50-48.
“We got a five-point lead and tell everybody to make sure they defend their guy, we go for steals, we let a guy wide open, he hits a shot, box out on the rebound, you know all the simple things we work on every single day is what cost this ball game,” McKinney explained. “I would love to blame it on youth but unfortunately that’s not it. It’s on the kids, it’s on me. We’re keeping ourselves in a position to win but we’re always find a way to lose those ones that we can win. It’s tough to deal with it but it’s who we are right now. The only way we change it is if we change it.”
The game was one of point swings. Tied 22-22 to end the first half, the Mustangs went on a quick 7-2 run with a three from Perez then two steals and fast-break lay-ups by Jose Rodriguez to go up 29-26 with 6:27 left. The Mustangs would not score until the start of the fourth quarter. During that drought, Yoakum went on an 11-0 run to end the third up 35-29.
“We’ll get down there for a little while and do things the right way or what puts us in the best situation to have some success but then it starts to tail off and a guy does something different and one other guy does it and before you know it, that run that we did have is going in the opposite direction,” McKinney said. “I would like to blame it on youth, I think it’s more inexperience. Kids got to understand how to play and right now we’re struggling to be able to play for 32 minutes. They play hard, they’re trying to win. But there’s a big difference in trying to win and knowing how to win. That’s where we’re at now, to get to the point pf knowing how to win. Right now, we’re finding every way not to get that done and that’s the difficult part.”
The Mustangs turned it around in the fourth, erasing the deficit and taking their first lead of the fourth quarter on a Jesus Vasquez three with 1:51 left in the game. Nixon-Smiley maintained the lead until the last few seconds of the game.
Rodriguez and Zach Perez led in scoring with 11 points. Vasquez added nine while Perez had seven. Ruben Bomer and Santos Pompa each had four points while Jesse Riojas had two.
After losing to Stockdale 56-47 on Tuesday, the Mustangs are now 0-6 with four games left in district play.
“Where we go from here is completely up to us,” McKinney said. “We are capable of getting a turnaround, I don’t know if we’re willing to dig in and work as hard as you got to work to get it turned around. That’s been our issue all along, does it mean enough for us to actually do the things correctly every single time. I know it’s not easy and I know a lot of these kids are young in that regard as far as being in these game-type situations, but we’ve been in several of them to this point and at some point you either learn from your mistakes or you repeat them. That’s kind of where we are right now. Your guess is as good as mine as how we’re going to approach it moving forward.”
Nixon-Smiley hosts Poth on Friday before traveling to Luling on Tuesday, Feb. 5.