Class D-2 No. 8 Mullen battling for a repeat state championship for its coach, Rusty Moore, who underwent surgery for a brain tumor in February, transcends all of the basketball storylines in Class D-2.
But the Broncos still showed up and played a solid game to beat No. 5 Mead 58-49 in a rematch of last year’s state championship game.
“We just told them, ‘Guys, it’s a game. Just show up and be ready to go,’” Justin Moore, Rusty’s brother and the interim coach, said.
A strong defensive second half helped Mullen pull out the win in a physical game that had saw players constantly on the floor fighting for loose balls. The energy was apparent, but a tall task is still ahead.
The road doesn’t get any easier Friday, as Mullen will face Riverside in a rematch of last year’s semifinal game.
Riverside (24-2) had to battle past a scrappy Wynot team (14-10) for a 54-48 win to claim their spot in the Class D-2 semifinal for the fourth straight year. Tredyn Prososki scored 25 points, including five three-pointers, and 6-foot-6 Joe Bloom dominated on the inside despite dealing with foul trouble.
“A month ago I would have told you I was concerned he was going to foul out, but Joe has matured a lot over the course of the year,” Riverside coach Joe Imus said of Bloom. “His discipline is getting a lot better.”
Bloom’s presence down low could have a big impact against Mullen in Friday’s semifinal against, as the Broncos do not have anyone Bloom’s size in the paint.
“They are an outstanding team,” Moore said of Riverside. “They like to get up and down the court and run.”
The teams will square off at 8:45 p.m. Friday at the Devaney Sports Center.