The Wave learned a lesson in comebacks they won’t soon forget a nail-biter loss at home to the Pershing County Mustangs, 58-51 Tuesday night.
Fallon coach Brad Barton said he was pleased with the first half, but after that his team came out cold in the third quarter.
“If we could erase that third quarter, we could’ve handled this team,” Barton said.
The Mustangs are 10-1 overall and without a league game yet. Fallon is 3-4 overall and 1-1 in league play, and their next game is at home against Lowry, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Fallon won the tipoff as always, and Dylan Ridenour had the first bucket of the game. The Mustangs’ answered with a 3- pointer by Ethan Rhodes who would spell trouble for the Wave for the rest of the night.
Fallon rose to an early lead at 13-5 in the first quarter After a basket under the net by Cade Vercellotti and a 3-pointer by Clay Davidson.
The Mustangs were visibly still warming up, giving Davidson all the time he needed to set up his shots, though Rhodes would answer with another 3-pointer despite a heavy guard by Connor Richardson.
The Mustangs’ William Gattrell finally found his groove with two baskets in a row, but after a layup by Ridenour and a nothing but net 3-pointer by Davidson, the first ended with the Wave ahead 18-9.
Beginning the second quarter with momentum, Ridenour stole from Rhodes and set up Fallon’s Dalton Kaady for a swift but smooth 3-pointer.
Vercellotti body blocked the Mustang’s Jake Cerini in the air, which gave Cerini two free throws, but the Mustangs were still behind at 23-15.
Cerini stuck to Fallon’s Craig Smith like glue to disrupt passing, and delayed Wave possession long enough for Gattrell to score a layup.
After two failed 3-point attempts by Davidson and a bucket by the Mustangs’ Jared Brinkherhoff, the Wave only led by 23-19 with the margin closing until two baskets by Ridenour cemented their lead and the second ended 33-19.
Mechanics fell apart for the Wave in the third quarter when the Mustangs lost no speed and Gattrell and Rhodes began to dominate the net.
“We started shooting way too fast and ended up giving up way too many possessions,” Barton said. “When you’re in the lead you want to grind the other team down, and instead they got to us. Instead of playing like we were up 15 points, we played like we were down 20.”
The Wave gave Rhodes and Gattrell the same time and footing to set up their 3-pointers as the Mustangs did for the Wave in the first half. Lovelock’s Lane Condie stole while Ridenour was caught watching, and set up Rhodes and Gattrell for two consecutive 3-pointers.
Fallon stood briefly on top at 35-33, but true to Barton’s words, Davidson missed his chances to score by rushing.
Still, Davidson scored the only bucket for the Wave in the third, but after, Rhodes sprinted down court unguarded for a 3-pointer, and the Mustangs jumped ahead, 36-35.
Brinkerhoff broke through the guards and made a layup, lifting the Mustangs on top 38-35. With one last 3-pointer for the quarter by Gattrell, the Mustangs’ finished the third and led 41-35.
Davidson began the fourth quarter with a basket, but Rhodes answered with a basket and the Mustangs climbed to 43-37.
After a free throw by Brinkerhoff, Davidson pushed for a layup and the Wave trailed behind at 44-39 until Gattrell sprinted for another 3-pointer for the Mustangs.
Rhodes followed suit with a 3-pointer and Lovelock led 50-41 after another basket by Davidson, slowly finding his way out of a funk.
The teams battled to 54-47, and a series of personal fouls and timeout free throws made the tension very real again. After a foul by Vercellotti, Gattrell made two free throws, and Davidson had to sprint for a basket with 26 seconds left.
Brinkerhoff was fouled, but missed both free throws and gave Vercellotti the gap to race down the court and score a basket. A foul on Vercellotti led to a timeout with six seconds left, the Wave behind 56-51 with what looked like their last chance to crowd the net and score.
Though Vercellotti made the free throw, Gattrell snatched the ball and rushed down court, where he was fouled again and made two in a row with 4.1 seconds left. Despite one last futile attempt by Davidson to score, the clock ran out.