MULLEN -- The Mullen Broncos set a goal this season to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 1952. After last weeks district championship win over Hay Springs, the Broncos achieved this goal.
“This is the first time since 1952 that Mullen has made an appearance in the state tournament,” said Mullen head coach Rusty Moore. “That has been a focus point for us all season, we have ‘1952’ printed on the back of our warm up shirts.”
Mullen will make it’s 13th appearence in school history as the No. 7 seed Broncos (22-3) will square off against the No. 2 seed Sterling Jets (21-5) at 9 a.m. today at Lincoln North Star High School.
Sterling returns to the state tournament for the 24th time in school history. The Jets have won six state championships, the most recent in 2009, and were state runner-up twice. Last season, the Jets lost to Hays Center in the first round of the state tournament.
Some key wins for the Mullen Broncos this season include three wins over D1 state qualifier Sandhills/ Thedford and Hay Springs in the D2-6 district final Of the three losses, one was to Hay Springs in overtime, one to C2 state qualifier North Platte St. Patrick’s and one to Loup Valley Conference Champion Litchfield.
Two of Sterling’s biggest wins were over C2 state qualifier Johnson-Brock. The Jets lost three of their first six games then went on to win their next 13 games. The Jets last two losses were in the Pioneer Conference Tournament to Southern and Johnson-Brock.
Coach Moore says that his team is preparing just like they would against any other opponent, learning their tendancies and strengths. Sterling is similar to Mullen as they both play man-to-man defenses and have big guys that play in the paint and can play on the perimeter. The differences that Moore sees is that Sterling has a deep bench rotating nine players throughout the game and they full court press while the Broncos focus more on their half court game.
“Sterling likes to run and pressure the ball for 32 minutes,” said Moore. “We have nothing to lose, we are going to lay it all out there and that will result in playing on Friday and Saturday.”
Coach Moore also feels that the early 9 a.m. start should not affect his team as they practiced in the morning throughout the season.
“We are approaching it as another game, but we get to have an awesome six hour road trip to get there,” Moore exclaimed.