MIDLAND, Texas — Muleshoe’s bid for the Class 2A state tournament in Austin ended one game short on Saturday.
Facing District 2-2A rival and champion Idalou with a trip to the final four on the line, the senior-laden Mules struggled from the start and suffered a 76-47 loss to the Wildcats.
Muleshoe (23-11) won four postseason games before bowing out, probably the best showing in the school’s history.
“That’s a pretty big achievement for those guys,” Mules coach Matt Mason said of his players.
The Wildcats (31-1), winners of 29 in a row, opened a 14-2 lead early. Muleshoe stayed with Idalou the rest of the half, but trailed 47-33 at the break.
The Mules, who lost 77-63 and 51-38 in the district games against the Wildcats, had their opportunity to come back in the third quarter, Mason said. But they managed only five points as Idalou built its lead to 23 points.
“We really had a chance in the third quarter to trim it,” Mason said. “We missed some open shots and layups, and they pulled away.”
Idalou put four players in double figures, led by 6-foot-4 senior post Luke Buckner with 19 points. Juniors Bradley Adkins, Riley Payne and Alec Estes added 16, 11 and 10, respectively.
Only senior post Cooper Washington, with 14 points, reached double figures for the Mules, who graduate nine seniors off this year's squad.
Idalou, which faces Tatum in an 8:30 a.m. (CST) state semifinal on Friday at the Frank Erwin Center on the campus of the University of Texas, went 18-for-23 from the free throw line while Muleshoe was just 9-for-23.
“They shot really well and we didn’t,” Mason said. “We had our opportunities, and I know we played hard. It was just one of those days.
“We played them tough twice in the district, but when they’re on their game, they’re awful good.”
Idalou has dominated its four opponents so far in the postseason. The Wildcats hope to add a basketball championship to the 2A Division II football crown they won last fall.
“They’ve got as good a shot as anybody else to win it,” Mason said.