|Senior Monica Soliz goes up for a lay-up while drilling plays in practice. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Junior Kylee Streck finds the open lane during practice. VVN/Travis Guy|
Success cannot always be measured by wins and losses; sometimes it needs to be gauged by progress and improvements.
That is the case with Mingus Union's girls' basketball team. The Marauders are entering their second year with head coach Art Moncibaez. Moncibaez and his sons Steve and Dave have been laying the foundation for future success, as the Marauders battle to remain competitive.
"What is it going to take [to have a winning season and make it to the playoffs]," Moncibaez said. "Some girls with dedication, hard work and you always need a tall one and you always need a tall one and you always need a point guard. I think we have a pretty decent team this year, I think we're going to surprise some people."
That battle to remain competitive is an uphill fight. The last time the Marauders had a winning season, and played in the post season, was in 2008-09. That year the girls made it to the final four as a No. 5 seed. Since then, the girls have not broken double digit wins, tallying two six-win seasons, a five-win season and seven in Moncibaez's first year at the helm.
The Marauders have a guard heavy team, losing two of their bigs to graduation. Despite this, the girls have faith in their two senior post players, Lexie Kleinman and Heather Calandra.
"I think our bigs were really a big part of this team, but ours are doing pretty good, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal," said senior Angel Chavez.
In addition to being a presence under the basket, Moncibaez said that Kleinman is one of the more vocal players, keeping her team motivated, even when she is on the bench.
"She cheers for the team even though she's on the bench, like volleyball," Moncibaez said. "She did a lot of cheering and being very vocal and pushing the girls to probably play better."
Chavez, a four-year varsity player, is joined by fellow senior, and four-year varsity player, Monica Soliz, as the two girls with the most experience with the Marauders. The two seniors have the same goals in mind, improve, have a winning season and make it to the post season, but they are entering 2013 in two different positions.
Soliz is fresh off her tenth place individual finish, and second place team finish, at the cross-country state meet, Soliz is no stranger to the post season.
While Soliz ended her fall season on a high note, Chavez, and Kleinman, is coming into basketball with a chip on their shoulder. As part of the volleyball team, the girls fell just short of making a trip to the post-season, never quite being able to maximize their talent as a team.
"Yeah, definitely. I didn't really like the way volleyball ended, so I want to make this season better," Chavez said.
Joining the seniors in her final year of high school basketball is transfer student Amber Rippy. Rippy transferred to Mingus Union from Sedona Red Rock. As a member of the Scorpions varsity team for three years, Rippy notched 448 points in 57 games.
"She was a starter for Sedona ... she's going to be an asset, definitely an asset," Moncibaez said. "Big, big asset, she's tough. That's something that we weren't counting on, but that's what happens. We don't lose one, but we gain one."
With their sights set on a winning record and trip to the post-season, Moncibaez and his team knows that no matter what, they will be a tough draw.
"We're definitely going to bang with some people, we're going to be good," Moncibaez said.