Over the last two-and-a-half half years since head coach Mark Owens arrived on campus, the Mingus Union High School basketball program has grown by leaps and bounds, but with this year’s team missing a large number of graduated players, it is now time to see what the younger players have learned.
With only three players returning from last year’s varsity, seniors Micah Nevarez, Bryant Briscoe and Talon Walz will be called upon to lead their younger teammates into battle.
“We will be tough and we will play hard,” Owens said. “In order for us to take the next step, my challenge to my guys has been to increase their basketball and athletic intelligence. We have a smart group of kids so I believe they will rise to the occasion.”
The Marauders are strongest, at least in numbers, at the guard position, where Owens said they will be looking for Nevarez to be the leader and team captain.
“He is doing a solid job so far, but he is learning what it takes to not only be an effective player but how to hold others around him accountable and make them better at the same time,” Owens said. “It’s a daunting task, but I believe he is up for the challenge.”
Walz and sophomores Ashton Loring and Tristan Clark are three other guards who Owens said will need to make major contributions for the Marauders for the team to be competitive.
Junior Herb Tiffany is also a guard that is likely to see playing time this year.
On the wing, Briscoe has made tremendous strides since last year and Owens is looking for him to continue to do so throughout this season.
Junior Michael Harrison is a player Owens thinks can increasingly help the Marauders this year as his conditioning improves.
Senior Anthony Broyles is back on the team after missing last season while recovering from knee surgery and junior Adrian Valenzuela is a player who can swing between guard and forward.
The one area where Owens said he’d like to see significant improvement is in the post.
“We have six guys in our program that could conceivably help us, but we are waiting for someone to be effective on both ends of the court and unfortunately, we have not had this so far,” he said.
“But the good thing is that all of our post players are young, hungry and eager to improve and that excites me.”
Owens said the post position will likely be filled by committee to start the year with junior Carlos Anaya, sophomore Zach Simmons and freshman Trevor Galloway getting the first chances at it.
The Marauders’ primary team strengths, Owens said, are what the coaches are preaching to the players, including defense, hard work, transition basketball and teamwork.
“The schedule is as tough as its been any year,” he said. “We will be playing against very talented teams with great coaching. We will need to play our best every night.”
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Dec. 4, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.