The Muleshoe Mules will have to get by a familiar foe to earn the school’s first trip to the Texas boys state basketball tournament in Austin.
The unranked Mules made 14-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter and overtook No. 10 Eastland 46-42 Friday in a Class 2A regional semifinal game in Midland, Texas.
The Mules (23-10) will have to beat sixth-ranked district rival Idalou in today’s regional final to earn one of Class 2A’s four spots in Austin.
Meanwhile, top-ranked Clarendon rode the spectacular play of senior Johnny Gaines down the stretch and eliminated Farwell 47-40 in a Class 1A Division I regional semifinal in Levelland, Texas.
Tyson Turnbow scored 16 points, including 8-of-10 free throws in the final three minutes, and Zach Toscano added 10 points for the Mules.
“We were both in the bonus situation, and we just started attacking the basket and getting to the line,” Muleshoe coach Matt Mason said. “And our senior (Turnbow) stepped up and knocked them down.”
In addition to making free throws when it counted most, Muleshoe limited Eastland standout Forrest Robinson, a 6-10 senior forward headed to North Texas, to 15 points, including four in the second half.
“We didn’t do too good a job on him in the first half,” Mason said. “At halftime, we talked about sticking to him like glue. We did a good job of getting help with other players.”
Free throws proved to be the difference in Farwell’s loss to the state’s top-ranked Class 1A team.
Gaines scored 19 points, converting 6-of-8 free throws late in the game to help Clarendon (23-5) outscore the No. 6 Steers 18-10 in the final quarter.
“We made a couple of turnovers and they were able to get the lead,” Farwell coach Shane Perkins said. “They pulled the ball out and that put us in a situation where we were forced to foul.
“We needed them to miss some free throws and they didn’t.”
Luke Carpenter led Farwell (29-3) with 13 points and Landry Actkinson finished with nine.