Albany Huskies had to bring their A game to the Mora gym last Thursday, March 11, to hand the Mustang boys basketball team their first loss of the season 50-49. That lone loss was significant in many ways.
First, Mora and Albany ended up sharing first place in the Granite Ridge Conference, both with 9-1 records.
Second, Mora ended up being seeded second in Section 6AA: a win would have given the Mustangs a first seed.
Third, the conference traveling trophy, which had been in Mora’s possession since last year, went home with the Huskies.
The game went as the coaches feared it could. Albany matches up very well with the Mustangs as their guards are very athletic and good shooters, they have two very good wings with size, speed and shooting skills and their posts are 6’4” and 6’5” with weight and strength.
Mora played their usual pressure defense and kept the Huskies to only 19 first half points. However, missed free throws and pressure defense of their own allowed Albany to go into the locker room down by only four 23-19.
Mora inbounded the ball to start the second half and the mood was optimistic based on the Mustangs’ history of starting fast and building upon their leads. However, this game would prove to be different. Albany continuted to create tough matchups, and they cut into and took their first lead late in the half.
Mora found itself behind by five points with less than one minute to play. The Mustangs have never been faced with a deficit that late in a game this year. In fact, they usually have enjoyed leads of 25-47 points.
Mora came into the offensive end and scored a two pointer, got the ball back and worked the ball around the perimeter until senior Andrew Rasmusson sank a three point shot to tie the score at 49 all within less than 10 seconds showing on the clock.
Albany called a time out, and in the ensuing play Albany’s Ethan Navratil, a thorn in Mora’s side all night, put up a jumper at the right elbow. The Mustang defense was perfect the whole play, but one official called a foul on the shot. Navratil missed the first shot but put in the second for the 50-49 lead.
Mora’s coach, Curt Grachek, called a time out to set up a play with only 1.8 seconds to play. The Mustangs did get a shot off but to no avail.
The second seed gives Mora home court for all games until the final game if Mora and Melrose, the number one seed, should win all their games. That game would be played in Melrose. However, if Melrose should lose and the Mustangs keep winning, the finals would be in Mora.
The Mustangs will play St. Cloud Cathedral at 7 p.m. this Thursday, March 18 in Mora.