Ja­cob a ma­jor part of Mullen’s horse­power

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man

On a check­list of what it takes to win a cham­pi­onship, the Mullen girls bas­ket­ball team can mark off ev­ery box.

The Mus­tangs have a bona fide star in se­nior Whit­ney Ja­cob, who coach Frank Caw­ley said is the best all-around player he’s had at Mullen.

They have depth with the likes of savvy se­nior point guard Tori Gal­van and the ju­nior twin tan­dem of Sydney Cong­don and Jaden Cong­don, a trio of un­der­rated play­ers who might be able to help the Mus­tangs de­throne two-time de­fend­ing Class 4A cham­pion Valor Chris­tian come state tour­na­ment time.

Per­haps most im­por­tant, the Mus­tangs pos­sess the in­tan­gi­ble of ex­pe­ri­ence, with the ma­jor­ity of their starters and bench play­ers back from last sea­son’s 18-9 squad.

It all makes for a gi­ant, gold ball op­por­tu­nity — one that Ja­cob and her team­mates aren’t tak­ing lightly as Mullen eyes its first state ti­tle since 2006 and fifth over­all.

“We def­i­nitely have a high con­fi­dence level com­ing off last year and mak­ing the Great 8, but we know that we have to work harder this year be­cause we want to go fur­ther than that,” Ja­cob said. “Our chem­istry is re­ally good and we al­ways work hard in prac­tice, so I think we have a good chance to make a run.”

Caw­ley in­stalled a new four-out of­fense this sea­son, one that’s tai­lored to a ros­ter heavy on ver­sa­tile guards who com­pete hard on both ends of the floor for the Mus­tangs, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A.

“De­fen­sively, I’m very happy with where we are,” Caw­ley said. “We take a lot of pride in that de­fen­sive iden­tity, but we’re strug­gling a lit­tle bit on of­fense so far. We’re get­ting a lot of good looks; they’re just not fall­ing right now.”

The play of Gal­van is cru­cial for Mullen to reach its full of­fen­sive po­ten­tial. The se­nior point guard — who’s headed to play at Regis Univer­sity next year, along with Ja­cob — is al­ready putting her­self on the op­po­si­tion’s radar.

“Tori is the one that stirs the drink, be­cause even though she and Whit­ney are both cap­tains, she’s our mo­tor,” Caw­ley said. “We’re go­ing to go as far as Tori takes us.”

And with a tough sched­ule that’s al­ready fea­tured No. 3 Holy Fam­ily and No. 4 Ev­er­green, the go­ing won’t get any eas­ier. Loom­ing is the Tarka­nian Clas­sic against na­tion­ally elite com­pe­ti­tion Dec. 17-20, fol­lowed by Cen­ten­nial League play af­ter win­ter break in which Mullen plays Class 5A pow­ers No. 1 Grand­view, No. 4 Cherry Creek and No. 7 Ara­pa­hoe two times each.

“Our record’s go­ing to be a bit of a mis­nomer, be­cause there will be 4A teams with much bet­ter records than us,” Caw­ley said. “But there isn’t go­ing to be a 4A team in the state that plays higher com­pe­ti­tion than us, so I’m ex­cited about how the RPI works for us. We’ll be bat­tle ready when the play­offs start.”

Whit­ney Ja­cob looks for a pass­ing lane against Her­itage.

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