MULESHOE — Beau Avila picked an opportune time for his only basket of the night.
With Muleshoe clinging to a three-point lead, the junior guard drained a 3-point shot from the right wing in the final seconds of the third quarter, setting the stage for a dominating final stanza in the Mules’ 64-46 District 2-2A win over Floydada on Friday night.
Senior guard Tyson Turnbow scored 26 points — one short of his season high — as the Mules (16-9, 8-3 district) survived an up-and-down performance to cement their claim on second place in the standings.
“It gave us some momentum,” Mules coach Matt Mason said of Avila’s shot. “We didn’t shoot well in the third quarter, but in the fourth quarter the shots started going in.”
The senior-laden Mules rely on pressure defense — they forced 34 turnovers, 21 in the first half — as Mason routinely substitutes players three and four at a time. All 12 squad members were in before the first quarter was over.
The Whirlwinds (11-15, 2-9) scored eight consecutive points to lead 8-3, but the Mules finished out the period on a 15-0 run highlighted by senior guard Nick Hurtado’s 3-pointer and five points from senior post Cooper Washington.
Leading 33-22 at halftime, the Mules went nearly five minutes of the third quarter without scoring as Floydada closed to within a point, but 3-pointers by Turnbow and Hurtado gave them some breathing room.
“That’s happened to us a lot this year,” Turnbow said. “We get out to a lead and we can’t put a team away.”
A three-point play by Floydada’s Cole Covington cut it to 43-40 with six seconds left in the period, but Avila may have taken some of the steam out of the Whirlwinds with his buzzer-beater.
Turnbow said he never thought the Mules lost control of the game, but added that Avila’s trey helped a lot.
“I think that sparked us,” Turnbow said. “Beau’s had a little trouble with his 3-pointer lately, but that was a big one.”
Muleshoe blanked the Whirlwinds for more than five minutes at the start of the final period in pushing its lead back to double figures.
“When the shots go in, we look a lot better,” Mason said. “We just need to do a better job of putting people away when we have them on the ropes.”
With three games left, the Mules are in solid shape for one of two remaining district postseason berths behind first-place Idalou. Mason said the Mules have a tough road test Tuesday against rival Friona.
Hurtado had three 3-pointers and 13 points for Muleshoe. Senior post Bryson Sessions was Floydada’s lone double-figure scorer with 14 points.
Floydada girls 59, Muleshoe 36 — The Lady Whirlwinds outscored Muleshoe 30-13 over the middle two quarters to take control. Whitley Beedy led Floydada (23-4, 11-2) with 18 points, while Sarah Sanders had 14 and Avery Miller 10.
The Lady Mules (7-22, 0-13) were paced by 18 points from senior Yvonne Gardea.