Mustang boys learning
With 0.1 second left in a game long since decided, Chugiak head boys basketball coach Kevin Fullmer continued coaching, screaming for his Mustangs to defend a meaningless inbounds pass as if a state title was on the line.
“I wanted us to get the 5-second call,” Fullmer said following his team’s 75-54 loss to Bartlett in the final game of the Doc Larson Roundball Classic in Wasilla.
Fullmer believes there are lessons to be learned whenever his undermanned squad steps on the court, even on days when they lose big. He knows a team that returns just two varsity players won’t be given much of a shot in the Cook Inlet Conference. But if the Mustangs (0-4 overall, 0-0 CIC) can improve each week, the coach thinks the squad can contend come tournament time.
“We just have to win two games,” to reach state, he said.
The Mustangs went 0-3 at the preseason Doc Larson tournament, falling 67-27 to Xaverian High of Brooklyn, N.Y. on Dec. 27 and dropping an 82-48 affair to the Colony Knights the next day. Still, Fullmer sees plenty of reason for optimism as the squad turns its attention to the upcoming conference season.
“We’re learning a lot about ourselves,” he said of his team, which shot 10-for-11 from the free throw line.
One thing the Mustangs learned is that senior Skyler Fullmer is already in midseason form. An all-conference selection last season, Fullmer led the Mustangs in scoring in the three-game tournament with 17.7 points per game, including a 26 point, 11 rebound performance against Bartlett.
Coach Fullmer said the swingman (at 6-foot-3 he’s the team’s tallest player) will be relied upon heavily this season both inside and out.
“He can play all five positions for us,” Coach Fullmer said.
Junior guard Payton Fullmer also had a solid tournament for the Mustangs, leading the team with 21 points in the loss to Colony and adding 10 against the Golden Bears.
Against Bartlett, senior forward Jake Brownlee netted 10 points to give Chugiak three players in double digits for the first time.
“We’re learning how to score,” coach Fullmer said.
After watching his team play listless defense in giving up 48 first-half points to the Golden Bears, Fullmer said he had plenty to say in the locker room.
“That irritated me,” he said.
Chugiak responded by outscoring their conference rival 34-27 in the second half to make things respectable.
“We’re improving,” Fullmer said.
Chugiak opens its CIC season Tuesday, Jan. 8 in a rematch with the Golden Bears at Bartlett at 7:30 p.m.
Between now and then, Chugiak’s head coach said he plans to work his team extremely hard in practice. Because the Mustangs have such a short bench, Fullmer said conditioning and fundamentals will be priorities.
“This gives me a whole bunch of stuff to work on heading into the season,” he said.
GOLDEN BEARS 75, MUSTANGS 54
Chugiak 12 8 19 15 – 54
Bartlett 24 24 14 13 – 75
Chugiak (54) – P. Fullmer 3 4-5 10, Randall 1 0-0 2, Burgess 2 0-0 4, Goward 1 0-0 2, S. Fullmer 11 2-2 26, J. Brownlee 3 4-4 10. Totals 21 10-11 54.
Bartlett (75) – Light 2 0-2 4, White 7 2-4 18, Rowland 5 0-0 12, Johnson 3 0-0 6, Ruble 2 0-0 4, Stanley 2 2-2 7, Sherman-Newsome 6 0-0 13, Malone 3 0-0 7, Romero Lewis 2 0-0 4. Totals 32 4-8 75.
Three point goals – Chugiak 2 (S. Fullmer 2), Bartlett 7 (White 2, Rowland 2, Stanley, Sherman-Newsome, Malone) Total fouls – Chugiak 7, Bartlett 13. Fouled out – None.