The Mingus Union High School boys basketball team’s grasp on the top rung of the Grand Canyon Region ladder slipped to the third when it hosted No. 10 Coconino High School on Saturday, Jan. 20.
For the second time in as many games, the No. 13 Marauders [9-4, 5-2 Grand Canyon] took on an opponent with an equal region record, but struggled offensively in a 66-52 loss.
“The whole game we didn’t run our offense. We didn’t run offense, we had a bunch of guys that tried to be heroes and tried to go one on five and you can’t win games that way,” Marauders head coach Dave Beery said. “We didn’t execute, didn’t pass the ball. When we did we scored, but it was like we’d run it once, we’d score, then we’d have four or five in possessions in a row where somebody would try to put their head down and go to the basket and end up turning it over, or taking a bad shot.”
The game turned during a handful of key stretches.
Panthers senior center Joram Watson finished a putback to give his team its first lead at 19-18 in the second quarter. Watson and company dominated on the glass, giving the Panthers second-chance opportunities throughout.
Mingus’ deficit extended to 22-18 when Coconino senior guard Eddie Harding hit a three-pointer on the next possession. Harding had a game-high seven three-pointers, many of which coming at the most inopportune times for Mingus.
On the first possession of the second half, Watson grabbed another offensive board and earned an and-1 opportunity, making the foul shot to open a 29-25 lead. Watson scored a transition layup off of a turnover, then Harding hit two more threes to widen the margin to 38-25.
“They absolutely physically kicked our butt rebounding tonight,” Beery said. “We talked about it at halftime, ‘Hey, we’ve got to keep [Watson] off the glass.’ First play of the third quarter we gave him an offensive rebound and foul him.”
The Marauders, who went in to the game ranked No. 10, ended the quarter on a short run, with senior center Kyren Kirton scoring back-to-back before junior guard Chase Saczalski did the same. With one quarter left Mingus trailed 43-38.
Mingus senior guard Michael Bryan hit a three to open the fourth, but Coconino [12-2, 7-1], then ranked No. 12, remained at an arm’s distance. Later in the quarter it was end-to-end action. Bryan scored five straight points, Watson got a dunk then Bryan hit another three to make it 56-52 with 1:13 left. But foul trouble from earlier in the half put the Panthers at the foul line, and were able to see out the game.
Mingus raced out to a 10-0 lead behind two triples from senior guard Kaynen Loring. Then Bryan hit a turnaround jumper from the elbow to make it 14-5, and the hosts led 16-9 after the first.
There were strong turnouts in the stands for both teams. Marauders senior Alex Figy’s three blocks early on, plus the Marauders growing lead had the Mingus faithful feeling vocal. As the game went on, the noise shifted from one side of the gym to the other.
Harding hit his first three-pointer to make it 18-12, then hit his second to make it 18-17. Meanwhile the Mingus offense continued to sputter, scoring just nine points in the second and 13 in the third.
“They were sound defensively, but I think a lot of it was self-inflicted also,” Beery said.
Mingus now sits in third place, and the region race will grow tighter during the week as it has three games. It opened at Bradshaw Mountain High School on Tuesday, Jan. 23, winning 58-28.
The Marauders host Mohave High School at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, before rounding out the week with a rematch with the Panthers on the road for another 7 p.m. tipoff.
Note: This story and the region standings were updated on Wednesday, Jan. 24, after a round of games was played on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
|Grand Canyon Region Standings|
The girls team lost to the No. 5-ranked Panthers 52-21 the game prior, not scoring until the second quarter to make it 18-2. It shares the same schedule as the boys team this week, with its games starting at 5:30 p.m.