The Munster Mustangs are no strangers to success in basketball. They captured a Sectional Championship this year, another in 2015, and only need to look at 2011 for their most recent Regional Championship. While the Mustangs fell to the Northridge Raiders 62-53 at this year’s Regional Semifinal, they added another proud story to their school’s pedigree.
The game started rough for Munster, with the Raiders scoring eight points in less than two minutes. The Mustangs rallied, with senior guard Jevon Morris launching an offensive that narrowed the lead to one possession. Yet Northridge seemed incapable of doing wrong, with their 6-foot-6 junior center Alex Stauffer scoring a dominating 28 points. Munster Coach Mike Hackett knew that the Raiders were dangerous, but their performance left him shaking his head.
“Did we expect them to come out and make that many shots early in the game? No,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to take your hat off to the other team. They came out hotter than could be and made us adjust. It was pick your poison, are we going to let them hit threes or let their big guy score. You’ve got to give Northridge credit.”
The Munster boys tried everything, but every formation and all their plays failed to stop the Raider’s momentum. The Mustangs put on a good show offensively, and rallied to within six after trailing by over a dozen. Unfortunately, where Northridge drained their shots, Munster’s key attempts just seemed to find ways to jump out of the basket.
“We had a couple shots rim in and out,” Hackett said. “If we could’ve just got one more bucket or got it down to a one-possession game, maybe. I was really proud of my guys, all we did was hustle, scrap, and fight. We made it interesting at the end. I wouldn’t expect anything less from this group.”
There are seven seniors on Munster’s roster, and many started playing together back in elementary school. In 2015, they were eighth graders watching from the sidelines as Munster won a Sectional title. Hackett went on to promise that group that if they fought their hardest, and put a constant effort in, they would earn a Sectional Championship to call their own by their senior years.
“We had three goals going into the season: get the holiday tournament, our conference, and sectionals,” Morris said. “We got that. This was just a bonus, basically.”
As the clock ran out, Hackett subbed out his seniors – letting them hear the ovation from a roaring crowd as they hugged their teammates.
“I’m really proud of this senior class,” Hackett said. “They got us back to winning sectionals and conference. We told the younger kids that coming back [next season], we expect you to keep us here.”