By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
KISMET - It was size versus speed when the Southwestern Heights Mustangs matched up with the Elkhart Wildcats Friday night. Heights speed won out in a 76-56 win.
On Senior Night it was a freshman and a sophomore who stepped up big to help lift the Mustangs to victory.
Freshman Jorge DeLa Torre came off the bench and scored 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field, and stellar post defense.
Sophomore Nate Johnsrud led the team with 22 points on 4 of 4 2-point shooting, 3 of 4 three-point shooting, and 5 of 6 shooting from the charity stripe.
Elkhart's size gave the Mustangs fits early in the game, as the Wildcats took a 10-0 lead. Heights coach Nefro Saucedo had seen enough and called a timeout.
"We started with a group of five seniors, so you know you can get after them a bit," Mustangs coach Nefro Saucedo said. "Usually I try not to yell so much but, basically I told them that the intensity was not there and that whatever had happened in the past does not mean that's what's going to happen here. We started getting some good pressure and the easy buckets from that got us going."
Heights' guards started to pressure, and were able to get steals and cause turnovers, leading to a 13-2 run that gave the Mustangs the lead with 3:07 left in the first. The streak continued and was capped when Rogelio Martinez drained a three to open the second quarter.
Heights had gone from down 10 to up 8 (25-17) in a span of 6 minutes of game time.
Nate Johnsrud scored led the Mustangs charge with 14 first-half points.
Heights caused 15 Elkhart turnovers and grabbed 11 steals. The Mustangs were also 6 of 12 from three-point range.
The two teams finished the half with even play with Heights still leading by nine, 37-29.
Heights still led by nine (51-42) with just over two minutes left in the third, when the Mustangs went on a 12-0 run that bled over into the fourth quarter.
DeLa Torre led the Mustangs run with 12 points in the third quarter.
Now leading 63-42, maintained the lead throughout the fourth to win by 20.
"Elkhart is one of those teams we knew we'd have trouble matching up with as big as they are.," Saucedo said. "We just talked about how we had to fight over screens and front the post. We tried to do some playing behind, but they just got the ball in and went to work on us so we had to make some adjustments. We had some shots falling and guys crashing the boards."
Seniors Ben Johnsrud (11 points) and Clayton Chase (13 points) finished in double figures.
Heights (11-8) will travel to Cimarron Thursday.