COLORADO SPRINGS — A year ago, Mullen's girls basketball season didn't with a clock running out and a buzzer echoing through the Denver Coliseum. It ended with an announcement that they wouldn't get to defend their Class 4A state title after advancing to the championship game.
COVID-19 had other plans. So when this season started, the focus for the Mustangs turned to finishing what you get the opportunity to finish.
They took that to heart and finished their championship run with a 67-44 win over Windsor.
"It was on every single practice plan, we talked about it at the beginning of every practice," coach Frank Cawley said. "This is what we wanted to do. We needed to finish what we started last year."
One way to do that is to shoot efficiently. The Mustangs (17-2 overall) shot nearly 54 percent from the floor, including going 6-for-15 from 3-point range.
Oddly enough senior Megan Pohs was one of the few Mullen players to struggle early. She was 0-for-4 from the field in the first half, but finally found her rhythm, hitting four 3-pointers in the third quarter. She scored all 12 of her points off those shots which accounted for all but two of the Mustangs points in that quarter.
Her shooting woes didn't bug her as Gracie Gallegos scored a game-high 17 points and Alexa Dominguez added 10.
"Our whole method is that if your shots aren't falling you have to keep your head up," Pohs said. "Eventually they'll start to fall and the team helps with that by keeping you in check."
The Wizards (16-2) kept pace with Mullen throughout the first quarter, but a quick 4-0 spurt by the Mustangs in the closing seconds gave them an eight-point pad. Where the Mustangs had an efficient shooting night, Windsor struggled from the field. Olivia Reed scored a team-high 10 points and Alexis Backhaus had eight and added seven rebounds along the way.
Even after building a comfortable lead, Cawley refused to believe that his team would maintain control.
"I've watched Windsor play four or five games and I wasn't comfortable until the final buzzer went off," he said. "That's my nature, but I was never comfortable until the clock showed twin zeros."
Mullen is now the third team in a row to claim consecutive 4A girls titles. Valor Christian did it in 2015 and 2016 before Evergreen won in 2017 and 2018.
This is the sixth state championship for Mullen girls basketball. The Mustangs won their first four championships between 2000 and 2006. This win was also the most points they've scored in a championship game, topping their mark of 62 points in 2019.
It was a feat they were hoping to accomplish a year sooner, but it was clear with the emotional reaction at the end of the game that the wait was well worth it.
"As soon as last year ended, it was our goal to get back here," Pohs said. "To do that is amazing, especially with this team. It's a great way to end my high school career."