Commentary by Chuck Lawson (901prepscoop)
With the score 24-8 with 4:40 left in the 1st half, some would have assumed that the game was pretty much at hand for the Spartans who got to the championship game behind the play of Camren Taylor who had 2 back to back 34 point weekends. The Mustangs were the favorite going in and why not, they were undefeated but on Sunday without 2 key players in Corey Jones, Jr. and Nathan Payne and down big early, the doubt I’m sure was there. The Mustangs made it 27-17 going into the half but St. George’s 7th Grader, Noah Pope went to work in the second half. With big man Christian Bonner sitting on the bench in foul trouble for a majority of the half, the Mustangs begin to chip away thanks to a more concerted effort to get Pope the ball. Lowrance’s Terrence “TJ” Moss hit Pope with a nice pass to cut it to 3, 31-28 right before Bonner fouled out with 9:54 left in the game after checking in the game for just about 30 seconds. Without the size and only Taylor to rebound, I knew the game would probably come down to Moss and Pope’s size and it did but they got a spark from one of their smallest players. Leland Kirkendoll made several key plays down the stretch including tying up the game, 33-33 with 8:00 minutes in the game. Pope scored on a lay up to put his team up 1 but Tyran Davis rebounded a long missed 3 pointer and put his team back up on top, 39-38 as the teams kind of se-sawed back and forth. Taylor hit a 3 pointer with 6.0 seconds left in the game to make it 47-44 but his team called a time out without having any left giving the Mustangs back the ball and win, 51-44 with a few free throws to seal the game. Leading all scorers was Noah Pope with 23 points with TJ Moss kicking in with 10 points.
My thoughts… It was a very exciting game with same great match-ups, from two good scorers in Camren Taylor and Terrence “TJ” Moss and post play from Chris Bonner and Noah Pope. Let me tip my hat to the Mustangs for the victory and to Noah Pope who had a monster breakout game. If I had a vote, Noah Pope would win the CBL 5-7 Playoffs MVP. Pope play his best game in the biggest game of the playoffs. Some would say the only game that really matter. The key stat. that stood out to me Pope hitting 9 of 13 from the foul line.
Not taking anything away from the Mustangs, I think the officiating was very lopsided with the Mustangs shooting 32 fouls shots to the Spartans 4. Taylor played mostly in the paint and only made it to the foul line twice, once in each half. With Bonner having 5 fouls and Taylor 3 fouls in the first half the Spartans couldn’t play aggressively at all in the half. Pretty much given up lay-ups to the Mustangs. Congratulations to the Mustangs, they are the 2011 CBL (5-7 NCAA DIV.) CHAMPS!