Northeast Tarrant

Mustangs poised to make playoffs but face big tests

Grapevine’s Ethan Tabor (3) has been leading the Mustangs in scoring.
Grapevine’s Ethan Tabor (3) has been leading the Mustangs in scoring. Special to the Star-Telegram

The Grapevine boys basketball team got off to sluggish start in district competition with two straight losses but rebounded with two wins and appears to be one of the playoff contenders as it nears the midway point of 8-5A competition.

The Mustangs have a big game against Eastern Hills on Wednesday and will take on another strong team at 8 p.m. on Friday when it hosts Birdville.

Coach Jeremy Mills said he is impressed by the versatility of the Hawks and said he knows that Grapevine will be in for a real fight.

“Birdville is extremely well coached and a very tough opponent, just like the rest of the teams in our district,” Mills said. “They have a great mix of size, athleticism, shooters and just tough kids who get after it and play the right way.”

Mills said that his team has played better the last two games and attributes the turnaround to a couple of factors.

“We’ve done a much better job defensively and have been very efficient on the offensive end,” Mills siad. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and doing everything possible to put ourselves in a position to compete and win.”

In a 65-46 victory over Richland last week, Ethan Tabor led the Mustangs with 24 points, while Andrew Lastinger scored 16 points and Boone Montgomery added 11 points in the game.

Evan Kimbell and Dalton Novotny combined for 14 points against the Rebels.

“Evan Kimbell has really stepped up for us big lately,” Mills said. “His energy and effort has really helped us defensively and offensively. He’s averaging close to 10 points per game and five rebounds a game in district so far coming off the bench.”

Mills said he is feeling pretty good about where his team is in terms of playoff positioning at this point, essentially because it is still such a wide-open race.

“This district is unbelievably competitive this year,” Mills said. “After four games, no team is undefeated and all teams have lost at least one game. Eastern Hills and Colleyville Heritage are 3-1, Grapevine, Birdville, Dunbar and Poly are 2-2, and Richland and Carter-Riverside are both 1-3.

“The district title and the remaining playoff spots are wide-open for everyone. We just want to keep getting better each game and put ourselves in a position to win the district title.”