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After his team’s 51-35 victory over rival Mingus Union High School, Head Coach Darren Gagnon said this was the best the Cowboys had played this season.

“We executed our offense. Ran it to a T. In the beginning we got a little lucky and that propelled us in this game,” Gagnon said on the court Friday, Dec. 17.

Andres Orellana passes to a teammate during a home game against Mingus Union High School on Friday, Dec. 17. The Cowboys delivered a decisive 51-35 point victory over the Marauders.The Camp Verde High School boys basketball team hit its first four shots to take an 8-0 lead while the Marauders couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat.

Mingus made only five field goals in the first three quarters of play Friday and Camp Verde took advantage.

The Cowboys led 13-7 at the end of one and were up 28-13 at halftime.

Junior forward Jake Spleiss led all scores with 11 points while senior guard Trey Cooper had eight, helping the Cowboys put away one of two Verde Valley rivals.

“Every kid contributed. I was impressed with our mental focus and with us putting the ball in the hole. It was tough for Mingus to get back in it,” Gagnon said.

Camp Verde outscored Mingus again in the third quarter, 13-6, to take a 41-19 lead. The Marauders made it interesting in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Cowboys 16-10, but in the end, Camp Verde came away with a win, 51-35.

Others chipping in for Camp Verde included junior point guard Andres Orellana who scored six points while junior Johnny Hudson and senior Shaq Watahomigie each had six.

For Mingus, the loss drops the Marauders to 1-6 [0-0, 4A-II Grand Canyon] overall this season while the win for Camp Verde improves its record to 4-6 on the year.

Camp Verde is 2-2 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power point games while Mingus is 0-4.

The Cowboys sit at No. 30 in the AIA power point polls, which were released Monday, Dec. 20.

Gagnon and his group of boys will take this week to prepare for the Bradshaw Mountain Invitational which is scheduled to begin Monday, Dec. 27.

“We’ll practice this week and take some time off for Christmas but we’re all excited about the tournament. There should be some good teams there that will give us a tough test,” Gagnon said.

Camp Verde’s first two opponents Monday at Bradshaw Mountain High School were unknown at press time, but the tournament is scheduled to run through Wednesday, Dec. 29.

Down 33-26 with 1:35 to go in the game, the Camp Verde High School girls basketball team looked all but beaten Friday, Dec. 17, but somehow, someway, the Cowboys just wouldn’t quit and won, 36-33.

Donnie Buss drives for the basket during an away game at Mingus Union High School on Friday, Dec. 17. Moments later Buss put the points on the board to put Camp Verde High School ahead by one point ending in a final score of 36-33 in the Cowboys’ favor.“We were down 10 the whole game. We started slow and at halftime we talked about having heart and playing better defense,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Mark Showers said.

The Cowboys found themselves down 12-4 after the first quarter of play and went into halftime trailing 23-12. In the third quarter, Camp Verde outscored rival Mingus Union High School 9-4 in the third period to trail 27-21 with one to go.

A 15-6 run in the final eight minutes of play for the Cowboys earned Camp Verde a victory, but it was the last 1:35 that really surprised attending fans.

Sophomore Amanda Showers, who was 2 for 15 from the field against Mingus, hit a big three-point basket to get the rally started, cutting the Marauders lead to four, 33-29.

Camp Verde got a defensive stop and came down looking to get it inside to junior standout Lila Hickey, who showcased her best drop step to put in a basket, cutting the lead to two, 33-31.

“Things didn’t go well for us to begin the game and we didn’t play with a lot of heart but we came out in the second half and played great defense and got a chance at the end to win,” Showers said.

On Mingus’ next-to-last possession, Amanda Showers recorded a steal, which she dished to sophomore teammate Donnie Buss, who ran downcourt to put in a layin while getting fouled to tie the game, 33-33.

With 30 seconds on the clock, Buss calmly hit the free throw to give her Cowboys the lead, 34-33, and the comeback
was complete.

“At the time, I thought to myself, ‘Let’s just play good defense and when we get the rebound I’ll call a timeout,’” Showers said with a big smile.

Mingus settled for a 15-foot jump shot with 14 seconds to go, and missed, with Hickey pulling the rebound. Showers called his timeout to set up a play to get his daughter Amanda Showers the ball.

“We knew they were going to foul,” Mark Showers said.

Amanda Showers caught the inbound pass, dribbled through three defenders and was finally fouled by the fourth with 0.1 seconds left.

Showers hit both to put the Cowboys up 36-33 and Mingus’ full court heave was nowhere near close as Camp Verde escaped with a victory.

Standouts included Buss, who scored 11 points while pulling six rebounds and recording three steals and two assists.
Hickey had 11 points and 11 rebounds while Showers had eight points and two steals.

With the win, Camp Verde improves its record to 9-2 overall this season and a perfect 5-0 in power point games.

The Cowboys are currently ranked No. 7 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, which were released Monday, Dec. 20.

Next up for Camp Verde, the Cowboys will play host to the annual Yvonne Johnson Memorial Shootout, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Dec. 28, and run through Wednesday, Dec. 29.

After the tournament, Camp Verde is scheduled to host Mayer High School on Tuesday, Jan. 4. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.

In only its second tournament of the season Saturday, Dec. 11, the Camp Verde High School wrestling team looks to be in midseason form, taking first overall at the 17th annual Verde Duals Wrestling Tournament.

“The tournament was an impressive opening for a young aggressive Cowboys wrestling team,” longtime Camp Verde Head Coach Bob Weir said. “The boys gave everything they had and came out the champs.”

Roman Bux, bottom, a senior on the Camp Verde High School wrestling team battles a Benson High School opponent at the end of the two-day Verde Duels Tournament in Camp Verde on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11.It is the 11th straight time Camp Verde has claimed the first-place prize at its own tournament.
The Verde Duals Wrestling Tournament is the biggest meet Camp Verde hosts every season and this year was no different with 16 teams competing over the weekend.

Camp Verde wrestlers went an impressive 89-31 in their matches during the two-day event and were 7-0 in duals against formidable opponents.

The Cowboys beat up on Tuba City High School to begin the tournament, 78-3, and went on to beat Copper Canyon [66-6], Sunnyslope [44-34], San Manuel [51-19], Cactus Shadows [70-12], River Valley [63-12] and Empire [37-36] high schools.

“Our returning wrestlers, and even our new wrestlers, have an attitude this season to bring back the respect to our program, on and off the mat,” Weir said.

Junior Michael Casillas, wrestling at 103 pounds this weekend, did just that, finishing a perfect 9-0 with four pins to claim first place overall.

Also taking home a first-place prize was 119-pound junior Derrick Brown, finishing 8-1 with five pins.
Brown received the Outstanding Wrestler Award for the tournament as well, according to Weir, something all the coaches vote on throughout the weekend.

Other top performances include 135-pound senior Roman Bux who finished third overall with an
8-1 record while 125-pound senior Daniel Dodge was 7-2 and also finished in third place.

Heath Carroll, a sophomore wrestling at 130 pounds for Camp Verde, took third overall with his 7-2 record and four pin falls while 140-pound sophomore Alex Anzar was 7-2 and took fifth overall.

Also finishing third overall was 215-pound junior Challen Richardson who had three pin falls and was 5-2 over the weekend.

“We weren’t predicted to win this thing,” Weir said laughing. “But our guys pulled together as a team and we came out on top.”

The Cowboys will hit the road over the next few weeks with three straight road meets scheduled to begin Friday, Dec. 17, at the Moon Valley Invitational Tournament.

It is the last meet before Christmas for the Cowboys who will travel to the Joseph City Tournament on Friday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 8.

Camp Verde returns home to host a multiple meet Wednesday, Jan. 12.


Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Verde Valley online voters made a local mother Goodwill of Central Arizona Football Mom of the Year by a 20,000-vote margin.

Candi Yatsinko, known as “Momyats” by the players and coaches of the Mingus Union High School football team, garnered 106,539 votes in the contest, an annual award sponsored by Goodwill to recognize moms who “go above and beyond to make every game, cheer for every student and help out whenever necessary,” according to Leslie Woodruff, Cox7 Arizona manager of programming and operations.

Candi Yatsinko stands Monday, Dec. 6, with members of the Mingus Union High School football team, who she calls “her boys.” Yatsinko was voted Goodwill of Central Arizona Football Mom of the Year.That’s a fair description of what Yatsinko has done for the MUHS football program during the last seven years, Head Coach Bob Young said. Young and his fellow coaches nominated Yatsinko for the award.

“She’s been a lifesaver for me,” Young said. “She organizes just about everything — booster club activities, meals for the players. This is a well-deserved award.”

“You can’t run a program without people like her,” John Behlo said. Behlo coached Yatsinko for three weeks before she participated in a punt, pass and kick competition associated with the contest.

Along with the other 19 moms from across central Arizona who competed, Yatsinko started from the 50-yard line, punted a football, then threw the ball from the point where the punt landed and finally kicked a field goal from that point.

After profiling each of the contestants and broadcasting the punt, pass and kick competition, Cox7 television viewers were asked to vote for their favorite mom, Woodruff said.

Yatsinko won with 106,539 votes. Her closest competition, a football mom from Fountain Hills High, received 86,033.

“I want to give a very special thank you to all my crazy voters who went without sleep for two days to make sure I won this title,” Yatsinko said. “It means a lot to me.”

Yatsinko said her supporters watched the votes add up online and noticed the next competitor was getting closer. The Maruaders responded to the challenge, organizing Team Candi, a group of supporters who worked in shifts to register online votes for their nominee.

“I’d surrender every single vote to watch my son and these boys play one more Mingus football game,” Yatsinko said. The Marauders were eliminated from the state champion football tournament Nov. 19.

Yatsinko said winning was a semisweet way to close out the year. Her son, Doug, a 17-year-old senior, is the last of her two boys to go through the MUHS football program. Married 23 years to husband Vinnie, Yatsinko is also mother to Nick, 19, a former Marauder.

“I’ve been team mom for this group of senior boys since 2003 when they were the Cottonwood Colts,” Yatsinko said. “They are like my own kids and are very special to me.”

If it wasn’t for an own-goal by the Mingus Union High School girls soccer team Tuesday, Dec. 7, the Marauders might be singing a different tune.

Instead, Mingus lost to rival Notre Dame Preparatory Academy, which is also ranked No. 2 in the state, 2-1.

“Sometimes that happens,” Mingus Head Coach Buddy Rhodes said in a phone interview Wednesday, Dec. 8. “We had some injuries and were shorthanded, and we still competed with one of the best teams in the state.”

At the Las Vegas Invitational this past weekend, Mingus lost senior forward Kayla Dixon to an ankle injury and she was unable to play in Tuesday night’s match against Notre Dame.

In the first half and down 2-0, Mingus lost another star in senior defensive standout Jesse Zaske, who injured her knee.

Mingus Union High School girls varsity soccer midfielder Lashea Taylor moves the ball downfield during a home match against Independence High School played on the Camp Verde High School field Nov. 30 (left). Mingus won the match with a score 5-0. The Marauders played Notre Dame Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and lost 2-1.“I don’t think we’re going to get her back for a while; it wasn’t good. We’ll send her to a doctor in the next day or two and see what the prognosis is,” Rhodes said.

With 10 minutes to go and the outcome very much in doubt, Mingus lost another top player in junior forward Torey Braly, who went up for a header and literally smacked heads with another player, causing her to get a nice bump on the head and a seat on the bench next to Dixon and Zaske.

“At the end of the match, we had one starter from last season on the field,” Rhodes said. “That speaks to how talented our young girls are coming up. They played great.”

Notre Dame scored in the 10th and 24th minutes to take the 2-0 lead heading into halftime. The second goal in the 24th minute is the one that Mingus scored on themselves, causing a disappointed look on many Marauders players’ faces.

In the second half, however, senior Lashea Taylor deflected in a direct kick from sophomore Nataly Escamilla to score Mingus’ first goal of the match, making it a 2-1 affair with just under 32 minutes to go.

The rest of the way, both teams were even but in the end, Mingus couldn’t overcome the 2-1 deficit and lost to a bitter rival.
“Notre Dame is a well-respected team. They are very good. It’s a tough loss for us but it happens,” Rhodes said.

Senior goalkeeper Courtney Hageman recorded five saves on the night while junior Taylor Brott filled in for her in the second half and recorded three saves.

With the loss, Mingus drops to 4-2 overall this season and should still be ranked in the top five in the 4A-II conference come next week when the rankings come out.

Next up, Mingus will travel to Thunderbird High School, which is ranked No. 1 in the 4A-II, on Thursday, Dec. 9.
Scheduled start time for the match is set for 6 p.m.

Second-year Mingus Union High School girls basketball Head Coach Micah Swenson says his girls don’t have a lot of size this season, but that will benefit his style of play over the next four months.

“We want to get up and down. An up-tempo game is the way we want to play. We’re not very big so our guards will have to step up,” Swenson said.

Sophomore post player Seairah Ebert goes strong to the hole. Ebert should be solid for the Mingus Union High School girls basketball team in 2010-2011.The Marauders lost seven players to graduation in 2009-2010. The team finished 6-13 overall after making the 4A-II conference final four in 2008-2009.

Familiar faces won’t be the theme of the year when Mingus opens its season Wednesday, Dec. 1, against Coronado High School.

Mingus returns only two players from last season in seniors Kayla Storie and Shaylene Martinez. Both were elected captains this season and should be starters when the season gets under way tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Storie is a solid point guard and has been for quite some time and could get All-Region votes for the 4A-II Grand Canyon when the season comes to an end in February.

Storie and Martinez are also the only seniors to make the team this season, making for a young squad in Swenson’s second year.

Top newcomers include sophomore post player Seairah Ebert and junior Desi Ortiz while junior Taylor Jochim looks to play some point guard behind Storie.

Juniors Jonie Olson and Lindsey Koeppe have made the squad while sophomore Skyler Storie looks to follow in her older sister’s footsteps.
“We’re pretty guard-heavy so we’ll have to play well against the bigger teams,” Swenson said.

This season’s Grand Canyon region is stacked once again. Both Flagstaff and Page high schools should be atop the standings again, and both could make the final four like they did in 2009-2010.

Page beat Flagstaff in the final four in the 4A-II conference state tournament in February, 49-47, but lost to
No. 1 Seton Catholic High School in the championship, 57-34.

Both teams return their core players in 2010-2011, making everyone else in the Grand Canyon region, including Mingus, fight for third place.

For all the talent the Camp Verde High School boys basketball team had in 2009-2010, the Cowboys still managed to finish only 16-15 on the year and could never quite put it together.

Junior Deshon Tripp, left, looks to pass to an open teammate in a scrimmage game Thursday, Nov. 18, against Mingus Union High School. Tripp and his Cowboy teammates begin the 2010-2011 season with one of the more talented core groups in recent memory.Teamwork and accountability were constantly called into question last season, but according to Head Coach Darren Gagnon, his 2010-2011 squad seems to have turned the page.

“The best thing I’ve seen so far this year is every kid on this team is committed to what we’re doing. They’ve all bought into the system and they want each other to do well,” Gagnon said in a phone interview Thursday, Nov. 18.

Gagnon went on to say his boys have shown an unselfish attitude so far in the first three weeks of the season, and stated “they all do what we ask them to do.”

Whether this “new attitude” carries over to games this season is yet to be seen, but the Cowboys certainly have the talent to capture a basketball fan’s imagination and turn some heads around in the 2A conference.

Top Returners

Camp Verde will be led by senior guards Shaq Watahomogie and Trey Cooper in 2010-2011. Both should be double-digit statistical players this season in scoring, rebounding and steals.

Watahomogie and Cooper give the Cowboys a one-two punch not many high school teams have at the 2A level.

Junior Jake Spleiss returns in the middle as the enforcer, and is anything but a third-wheel to Watahomogie and Cooper. Spleiss complements the two stars quite well with his stingy defense and inside play along with the ability to guard not only quick players on the perimeter but the big uglies inside.

“These three guys work well together,” Gagnon said.

Two other seniors returning this season are Kyle Neiderer and Daniel Brunner who should give the Cowboys plenty of minutes this year.

As for the junior class, Johnny Hudson returns as a dead-eye shooter from outside while Deshon Tripp could be one of the more athletic players on the court this season for the Cowboys.

Top Newcomers

Camp Verde has a few newcomers as well who have made Gagnon’s squad in juniors Brian Hudson, Andres Orellana and Josh Benson.

Hudson is a shooter like his brother Johnny and although small, Benson does all the right things according to Gagnon.
“He is small, but I like what I see out of him. He’s definitely going to help us this year,” Gagnon said.

The Schedule

Although the Cowboys would certainly have the talent to win 20-plus games in any other season, this year’s schedule is brutal.

Camp Verde opened its season on the road Monday, Nov. 22, when they traveled to Mayer High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Mayer might be the easiest game on the schedule this season. North Pointe Preparatory Academy is a tough 1A team playing a 2A schedule while Williams High School might challenge for a state championship this season.

After the Round Valley Invitational Tournament, Camp Verde hosts Mingus Union High School, which finished third in the 4A-II Grand Canyon region.

Camp Verde is on the road against Scottsdale Christian and Wickenburg high schools in early January and then travel to Westwind Preparatory Academy, which has Division IV numbers but petitioned up to Division I in October.

Chino Valley High School is always tough and so is Northwest Christian High School, but we wouldn’t want to forget about Sedona Red Rock High School, the most heated rival for the Cowboys.

If there’s one game Camp Verde fans should go to this season, it’s the Sedona-Camp Verde matchup, which is sure to bring plenty of good basketball and tough competition.

“This schedule is going to make us tough. Whether we win 20, 15 or 10 games this season, it will prepare us for the state tournament,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon also talked about his team hitting the road early this season, stating that it will give his team time to bond.

“We only play one home game before the new year. This will give us time to bond as a team, and we generally play better on the road anyway,” Gagnon said.

Next up, the Cowboys will travel to North Pointe Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Camp Verde will host Mingus on Friday, Dec. 17, in its first home game of the year.

Entering his seventh year as head coach for the boys soccer team at Mingus Union High School, Cade Densmore believes this year’s squad will be one of the strongest he’s coached for the Marauders.

“The core of the team is back,” Densmore said after practice Monday, Nov. 22. “We have several starters back and some new kids that are solid.”

Sweeper Jonathan Witt pops the ball back downfield against North Canyon High School on Nov. 17.Despite Mingus’ 11-8 overall record in 2009-2010, the Marauders finished a perfect 5-0 in 4A-II Grand Canyon region play, claiming a title.

Within the region, Mingus recorded three shut-out victories and gave up only two goals.

The Marauders lost in the first round of the 4A-II conference state playoffs in February to Palo Verde High School, a team that made it to the state finals before losing in penalty kicks to eventual state champion Cortez High School.

With 13 seniors having graduated last season, Densmore said many teams might underestimate the Marauders’ ability.

“I think we will be solid, and probably surprise a lot of teams. If we can stay healthy with the 15 or 16 kids we have on varsity, I think we can win the region again,” Densmore said.

Top returners for the Marauders include seniors Todd Runyan, Mike Rebstein and Austin Richardson along with juniors Jonathon Witt, Austin Strobel and Williams Dominguez.

Runyan and Witt are two of the better defenders in the region while Strobel is a solid midfielder and Rebstein should be one of the best at the forward position.

As for the newcomers, juniors Alex Contreres and Charlie Ramirez are both back after missing their sophomore campaigns for various reasons and sophomore Alan Mendoza has impressed the Mingus coaching staff, according to Densmore.

At the goalkeeper position, 5-foot, 6-inch sophomore Gilbert Quidera should be between the posts when Mingus begins play next week.

According to Densmore, two of the top goalkeepers slated to play for Mingus were ineligible, and are unable to play this year.
“If there’s an aspect of our team I’m a little concerned about it’s the goalkeeper position, but I still think Gilbert [Quidera] is going to do a great job for us,” Densmore said.

Mingus opens its regular season schedule at Independence High School on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Scheduled start time is set for 6 p.m.

The first home match for the Marauders will be Tuesday, Dec. 7, when Notre Dame Preparatory Academy comes to Cottonwood.

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