Mountain House High freshman Lamont Couch Jr. was on a roll on Monday as he led the Mustang junior varsity team (7-3) to a 68-59 win over Ponderosa High (3-1).

Couch scored 23 points for the Mustangs, including four 3-point shots.

The game was close in the first quarter, before the Mountain House team’s aggressive play paid off at the free-throw line. The Mustangs were up 36-24 by halftime and led by as much as 17 points in the third quarter before Ponderosa started to hit its shots in the fourth.

The win signals a good start for the fledgling team, which lost its first two games and has won seven of eight since then, including two of three games at the Sonora Tournament this past weekend, where the Mustangs claimed the second-place trophy.

“The main thing I’ve noticed is that we come out and play two different ways,” Mountain House coach Scott McDonald said. “Sometimes we come out and play as a team, and other times we’re selfish. When we come out and play as a team and make the extra pass, we can be a pretty good basketball team on the offensive floor.”

He added that the defense had improved, too, though he hoped to consistently hold opposing teams to no more than 40 points. He said that Ponderosa’s 22-point fourth quarter showed that the Mustangs should never get too comfortable with a big lead.

“We’ve got to learn how to close games,” McDonald said. “We always make it interesting. I’d just like to be able to close games and let some of the other players in there who don’t get as many minutes.”

Another strong contributor to the Mustangs’ effort on Monday was sophomore Cameron Palmer, who scored 16 points, including eight of 13 free throws, and had 13 rebounds. Sophomore J.D. Dike added 10 points, including four of four free throws, and pulled in eight rebounds.

The Mountain House freshman team lost 56-49, with Elijah Anderson the Mustangs’ top scorer with 14 points.

Kimball 67, Stagg 29

The Kimball High Jaguars (5-3) put up a smothering defense on Tuesday in their win at home against Stagg High (2-8).

Kimball had a 39-20 lead at the half and all but shut down the Stagg offense in the second half. On defense, the Jaguars forced 18 turnovers and had 36 rebounds to Stagg’s 26. On offense, 11 of the 14 players on the Kimball roster scored, including 12 points by senior Peter Van Katwyk and nine by senior Jhordin Mellion.

Contact Sports Editor Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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