December 18, 2019 - 10:16 AM

Landon Carson drives in for a layup against Burlington on Tuesday. The Mustangs lost 62-49 to fall to 1-1 in Pioneer League play. REGISTER/ERICK MITCHELL

BURLINGTON — The Iola Mustangs entered Tuesday’s Pioneer League matchup ranked ninth in class 4A. With recognition comes expectations, and the Mustangs failed to live up to their standard. 

A game based on physicality saw Burlington bully its way to a 62-49 victory over the Mustangs. 

“They were going to push the limits of what is a foul and what is not a foul,” head coach Luke Bycroft said. “That is just how they play, and if they get an officiating crew that is calling fouls, then they back off.  But this is not about the referees, and that they didn’t call fouls. We let them take us out of taking care of the ball.”

While Burlington outshined Iola after four quarters, the Mustangs were clicking early. Landon Carson scored Iola’s first five points, including an effort from long range. Dillon Bycroft’s jumper put Iola ahead 11-8 after the first quarter, as the Mustangs handled Burlington’s press well to start. 

The Wildcats awoke with five quick points to start the second to jump out in front 13-11. The second unit for the Mustangs was unable to keep the pace the starters set in the early stages. In fact, no Mustang outside the starting five provided any production on the scoreboard. 

“We had some guys that were maybe a little shell-shocked with the pressure,” Bycroft said. “Some of our guys haven’t seen as much as the varsity level pressure. I needed to give my starters a break, but they weren’t quite ready and that is not their fault.”

The Mustangs tied the game at 16-16 after Cal Leonard’s 3-point bomb and an easy layup from Carson. Burlington responded with a 12-3 run to close the first half, and led 28-21 heading into the break. 

To start the second half, Iola still struggled to find its offensive rhythm. The Mustangs trailed 43-31 after three quarters, and 24 turnovers in the game didn’t help their efforts. 

“You can’t try to dribble behind your back when you are trying to split two defenders, I mean that is just silly. You can’t do that,” Bycroft said. “You can’t just grab the ball out in front of you. You can’t do it. Those are the types of things that lead to 24 turnovers.”

Burlington grew its lead to 16 in the fourth when the Mustangs decided to punch back. Another trey from Leonard along with weave-and-finish in the paint from Carson shortened the deficit to 11. But it was too little too late as the Wildcats handed Iola its first Pioneer League loss, 62-49. 

“I think they outplayed us with effort, heart, and the right mentality,” Bycroft said. “And that is unfortunate, but we need to learn from something like this.”

Iola has one more game left to play in 2019. The Mustangs will travel to Prairie View on Thursday, with tip-off scheduled for around 7:30 p.m. 



Iola (11-10-10-18 — 49) (pts): Bycroft 8, Leonard 20, Cole 4, Carson 11, Delich 6. 

Burlington (9-20-15-19 — 62) (pts): Burns 10, Bahr 18, Haselhuhn 2, Smith 7, Kuhlmann 5, Payer 12, Meats 6.