Mingus Union High School’s boys basketball team has all of the pieces necessary for a successful season. At the moment, head coach Dave Beery has still got to glue them together.
During the two-day Red Rock Hoops Classic, on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2, the Marauders played at its best for spurts en route to a semifinal appearance. Inconsistency on the offensive end of the floor was the biggest takeaway from the final tuneup before Grand Canyon Region play.
“Overall I think we’ve got a lot of potential, so I’m pleased with that,” Beery said. “If we clean up a few simple things, it’s going to make our lives a lot easier because right now we’re kind of our own worst enemy when we don’t look good.”
In the semifinals, the Marauders fell 52-43 to a hard-nosed Blue Ridge High School team, the eventual champion, for the second time in as many days. They trailed 23-18 after junior guard Chaz Taylor scored a bucket, but the high-energy Yellow Jacket defense forced turnovers and limited quality scoring opportunities.
At halftime, Mingus trailed 34-24. Marauders senior guard Michael Bryan hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 39-26; however, Blue Ridge answered with four points off turnovers to continue opening its lead. Bryan hit another triple with 1:45 left to make it 45-37, but it was too little, too late.
Finding good scoring chances was not limited to either of the Blue Ridge games. In the morning game against Winslow High School on Dec. 2, Mingus went up 20-8.
It opened that lead by forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. Once the Bulldogs began to control the ball more, they began to mount a comeback, trailing just 24-21 at halftime. Their first lead came at 34-32 on a long three-pointer halfway through the second half.
For the remainder of the game, despite winning 50-47, the Marauders were forced to play halfcourt offense, and shots became rushed.
“I just told them, we have guys that work hard, but until we decide to run an offense we’re not going to be able to beat teams because we can’t execute in the halfcourt right now,” Beery said. “Right now our halfcourt offense is pretty much stand around and hope somebody does something. We’ve got to be a little more disciplined.”
Beery also indicated that solidifying the team’s rotations has been a puzzle left to solve. With capable players on his bench he was plugging and playing to find what works.
Time is short, however, as the team opened region play at Mohave High School on Monday, Dec. 4. Results were unavailable at press time.
One player who stood out was senior forward Martin Soria. Soria is dealing with an injury from football season that prevents him from shooting properly. Nonetheless he has stepped up.
“Martin Soria really impressed me all weekend long. If he’s on the court, he’s working as hard as he can,” Beery said. “He improves every day .... His shot is awful right now but I think once he gets a little more comfortable, shooting the ball especially, he’s going to be pretty dangerous for us. He’s a little more assertive than some of our other guys.”
Taylor and senior forward Alex Figy were also standout players over the weekend, Beery said, and that Figy played “his best game wearing a Mingus uniform” in the final loss to Blue Ridge.
The first day, Dec. 1, featured pool play during which Mingus opened with a 54-30 victory over Snowflake High School. Later on it beat region foe Bradshaw Mountain High School 39-31 and finished second in its group following a 51-37 loss to Blue Ridge.