Hanging from a wall of Camp Verde High School’s Dr. Mark J. Westervelt Gymnasium are two wooden fixtures that, during the season, show the names of the varsity boys and girls basketball teams.
During the summer those names have since disappeared, symbolizing a clean slate that applies to both the Cowboys and Mingus Union High School’s boys basketball teams, which each lost a core of seniors from last season.
The two teams, along with Payson High School, played a three-way round robin at Camp Verde High School on Wednesday, June 7. The focus, as is during summertime, was more on development rather than winning.
“We basically have two guys with varsity experience,” Mingus head coach Dave Beery said. “They’re learning the pace of the game, and especially on the defensive end, communication and the speed of other players. They’re learning how to be varsity basketball players.”
The Cowboys and Marauders were the first to match up.
In a display of pure high school summer ball, three pointers and turnovers were the norm. Camp Verde took 10-5 and 16-7 leads before Mingus rattled off a 10-0 run to knot things at 17 in the latter stages of the first half.
Marauders senior-to-be Michael Bryan, the only one with true varsity experience present, hit a three to give his team a 20-17 lead, which led 22-19 at halftime.
In the back-and-forth second half the Cowboys pulled to within one, but the Marauders eventually won 48-42.
Nonetheless, Camp Verde head coach Dan Wall was more satisfied with his team’s play in the second half.
“Being able to consistently play defense every possession, even during stretches where we’re missing shots, we can still come down and get stops,” Wall said. “That was what I was happy about in the second half.”
Following a short break Mingus then took on Payson, also getting the win. With the loss of six seniors, but on the other hand an influx of size, the team is working with different offensive sets.
The weekend prior the Marauders had a team camp at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University where they played against some 6A schools, and according to Beery, “we got our butts kicked.”
More than wins and losses, he sees his squad is motivated.
“What I really like about this team is I’ve got guys who want to learn, who want to get better,” Beery said. “We’re getting a lot of turnout at open gyms.”
Camp Verde and the Longhorns played last, with the hosts winning 51-29. More consistent offense and less turnovers were the biggest differences from the earlier loss.
“The kids just got after it, I’m very happy with how hard they played. It sure changes things when you make some shots,” Wall said.
After playing five games in Flagstaff over the previous weekend, Wall was content with the growth he saw.
“The bottom line in the summer is taking steps in the right direction,” he said. “Game by game by game, seeing that grade of improvement.”
Another three-way round robin is set to be played at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, at Mingus.