Sweetwater’s boys came within an eyelash of playing their third consecutive overtime game when they faced Merkel here Tuesday.
But a game-tying 3-point shot by Merkel’s Chase Bowman came just after the final buzzer sounded at Mustang Gym as Sweetwa-ter escaped with a 45-42 victory.
The game was typical of the way things have gone this season for the Mustangs (4-5), who have had six of their games decided by three or fewer points.
Sweetwater led for the final 13:44 of Tuesday’s contest, but after opening a 10-point advantage (45-35) with 1:27 to play, the Mus-tangs nearly gave it all up as Merkel ended on a 7-0 run.
“We were up by 10 and made a couple of foolish mistakes and let them come back,” said coach Al Hunt, whose team will join the Sweetwater girls to play at Stanton’s three-day tourn-ament starting Thursday and doesn’t play at home again until Dec. 16.
“But we hung in there. We played real well on the defensive end and probably had our best game we’ve had rebounding. We’ve got to hold people in the 40s to have a chance and that’s what we did tonight.”
A see-saw first half ended with Merkel leading 18-17, but Sweetwater went ahead to stay after Patrick Pala-cios’ basket made it 23-22 with 5:44 left to play in the third quarter. It was part of a 15-4 run that extended the lead to eight early in the fourth quarter, and Dylan Bennett’s 3-pointer increased the Mustangs’ lead to 10 points at 41-31 with 4:01 left.
Kaleb Hoover scored 13 points to lead Sweetwater and Bennett had 12. Taylor Jones and Gabe Medellin had six points, Anthony Pal-acios four and Patrick Pala-cios and Tino Martinez had two points apiece.
Merkel girls 59,
Sweetwater girls 28
Being back in their home gym didn’t help Sweetwater against a good Merkel team. The Lady Badgers domina-ted the Lady Mustangs from start to finish as Sweetwa-ter’s record fell to 6-7.
“They’re a good team, but I think if we’d shown up and hustled more, we could have done better,” said Sweetwa-ter coach Candice Wyatt.
Merkel was ahead 17-0 before Candice Hernandez scored Sweetwater’s first points on a trey early in the second quarter. But there was no stopping the visitors, who led 43-18 entering the fourth quarter.
No one reached double figures for the Lady Mus-tangs, with Hernandez (7) coming the closest.
Shelby Cason, Kendra Crosson and Alicia Finn all scored four points, while Kinsey Browning had three points and Kelsi Crosson, Hayley Brownlow and Kath-leen Campbell all finished with two points.