With contributions by Michael Ruiz and Andrea Starks
Germantown, Tennessee--February 17, 2021--It was a season like no other. There were no cheerleaders, sparse-filled bleachers, and new rules and regulations from TSSAA. Without the live crowds, the Houston Mustangs had to find new ways to feed the energy and bring the intensity. Led by Coach Patrick Cook, the Mustangs developed an aggressive playing style with full-court presses and fast breaks. The team relied on the dominant duo of Garrett Hagan and Owen Waggener to grab rebounds and go hard in the paint. Skillful ball handlers Ryan Mitchell, Ben Killebrew, and Chase Manning drove the ball in, outmaneuvering their opponents, and racked up points with jumpers and layups. As the season developed, so did the outside shooting game with players like Carson Chandler, Chandler Day, Michael Richmond, and Chase Jackson sinking threes. The bench was deep, and the starting line-up shifted throughout the season with players stepping up to bring the team to victory game after game.
It became quickly apparent that this team had something special. With chemistry on the court and a drive to win, these players had their sights set on going all the way. They would finish the regular season undefeated and battle district neighbors, Riverdale, in the Regional Championships. All-tournament players Carson Chandler, Ryan Mitchell, and Owen Waggener would lead the team to a 56 to 31 victory, clenching the Regional Championship title and moving the Mustangs on to Sectionals as the number one seed. History would repeat itself and the Sectional Championships would come down to another GMSD battle between Houston and Riverdale. The Mustangs would once again claim the victory becoming Sectional Champs and advancing to the State tournament in Murfreesboro – a first for a Houston Middle School boys basketball team.
Shooting guard, Ben Killebrew, contemplates his next move. Photo credit: Kelly Day
Fired up and determined to make history, the Mustangs would battle hard and win their first-round against a tough Station Camp Middle School. There was only one more opponent left to defeat; the State Championship game would be against Blackman Middle School who had homecourt advantage.
At the Final Game:
The scoreboard reads 43-43 with 8.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the TMSAA State Tournament. Being behind until the third quarter, this was the roughest start to a game the Houston Middle Mustangs have had all season. Fans are on their feet in the stands clutching posters, flags and other spirit gear as Ryan Mitchell gets ready to pass the ball inbounds and start what could be the final play.
He passes to Owen Waggener, who immediately returns it then sets it up under the hoop. Carson Chandler and Chandler Day move into position ready to fire off their famous three-pointers. Ben Killebrew breaks away from the defense. Mitchell draws two defenders away from the goal and puts up a jumper. It bounces off the backboard, and the entire gym inhales sharply refusing to exhale in these final seconds. As if his right arm was a hook, Waggener snatches the ball and with a single bounce, puts it in the basket.
(Photo credit: Kelly Day Photography) The stands erupt. The team bursts off the bench and onto the floor. They’ve done it—a perfect season, 21-0. Coached by one of Houston Middle School’s Physical Education teachers, Patrick Cook, the team has made history for both the school and Germantown Municipal School District. This group now adds Middle School Boys Basketball: Regional Champions, Sectional Champions, and State Champions to the list of accolades.