MCCOOL JUNCTION — The McCool Mustangs looked tall, beefy and quick in their season-opening win over Cross County.
The teams met Thursday night in the McCool gym where the Mustangs won big 71-32.
The Mustangs went up 6-1 on a bucket by Terry Salyer, who stole the ball and went coast-to-coast at 5:05 of the first period. The score mounted to 13-3 by the time the first-quarter clock was down to two minutes. Alex Preslicka, who scored 14 in the contest, hit a layup, Jac Bailey got an offensive rebound stick-back and Brett Swantek hit from point-blank range to make it 19-5 at the first horn.
Bailey took the ball end-to-end after a steal, laid it up and in and gave McCool at 26-7 lead. Coleman Cogswell netted a three on the way to a 40-11 halftime lead for the Mustangs.
Salyer scored on an offensive rebound at the third-period buzzer and the board read 55-24. Both teams got significant minutes for their bench players in the fourth period.
Ross Eller, Cross County’s 6-5 senior, led the Cougars with 14 points.
Jared Morner led all scorers with 17 for McCool, which got 12 from Salyer in addition to Preslicka’s 14. Brett Swantek scored nine and Cogswell added eight.
Coach Trent Colle of the Mustangs said, “It feels good to start 1-0 for a change. Our guys played hard. The experience is there. We played an all-around good game tonight. We’ve just got to continue to play like this. I told the team, we showed a lot of leadership tonight” and he talked to his players about “what we can accomplish this year.”
“Just got to get better,” said Cross County coach Dan Conway. “Not physical enough. They came out with a lot of intensity … a lot of pressure. It’s a tough way to start the season, but we’ve just got to keep getting better.”
The Mustangs are at Hampton for both boys and girls on Saturday. Games have been moved up to girls at 3 p.m. and approximately 4:30 for the boys. The new schedule dodges a conflict with the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis. The Cougars visit Shelby-Rising City for a boy/girl twin bill.
Cross County ............ 5 6 13 7—31
McCool Junction ............ 19 21 15 16—71