Mingus Union High School’s boys basketball team recorded an important milestone on Friday, Jan 5.
It was not the fact that it picked up its third Grand Canyon Region win in four games, more than it had to this point last season.
A 71-56 win at Flagstaff High School gave the Marauders [6-3, 3-1 Grand Canyon] their first win over the rival Eagles since Dec. 15, 2009.
They had already lost once to them this year, 61-55 at the Holiday Basketball Tournament on Dec. 9.
“It’s good. I think we had lost to them earlier at that tournament, we definitely knew we were capable of beating them, but we had to come play with a little more energy than the first time,” Mingus head coach Dave Beery said.
Mingus led 15-10 after the first quarter, Beery said, but after a sloppy second held a one-point halftime advantage at 31-30. Beery said that both teams were running fast breaks for layups through that second frame, with the Eagles outplaying the Marauders.
After key players got into foul trouble in the first half, and overall play was at a level lower than expected, Beery said they challenged the players at halftime to come out stronger.
They responded to that challenge, and it was in the third quarter that the Marauders made their move, breaking off a 16-0 run. They forced turnovers and converted in transition. Improved communication and rotations on the defensive end were the catalyst, Beery said.
“We just weren’t playing like we wanted it as much as we said we did, and our guys really responded in the second half, especially in the third quarter,” Beery said.
He said senior forwards Alex Figy and Martin Soria had standout performances. Figy was scoreless in the first half while picking up two fouls and his third at the beginning of the third quarter. Despite that, he finished with 16 points, 12 in the third quarter alone, and was aggressive going toward the basket.
Soria only scored five points, but made his impact with a number of third-quarter assists and by forcing Flagstaff into making poor decisions with the ball. Soria, too, was in first-half foul trouble.
Junior guard Chaz Taylor had 14 points as well, most coming in the first half.
Beating Flagstaff is not enough, Beery said, as the team continues to work its way to the top of a tough region, ahead of the likes of No. 16 Prescott High School and No. 9 Coconino High School.
The Marauders sat in third in the Grand Canyon Region before traveling to Lee Williams High School, who was riding an eight-game winning streak.
Results from that game were not available at press time. Mingus next plays at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, against a top Conference 2A team in Scottsdale Christian Academy.
The girls [4-4, 2-2 Grand Canyon] dropped their game to the Eagles 67-33. Flagstaff’s girls team has been one of the powerhouse teams of Conference 4A, currently sits at No. 1 in the division, and currently is in first in the region at 6-0 and is 8-0 in power-point games.