1/25/2014 2:11:00 PM Marauder stop second half rally, hold on to beat Panthers 60-53
Talon Walz finds an open lane and drives up the court during the Marauders 60–53 win over Coconino. Walz finished with eight points before in the fourth with a mild injury. VVN/Travis Guy
Above: Zach Simmons attempts a shot through two Coconino defenders. Simmons was held scoreless against The Panthers but established his presence under the rim with Trevor Galloway as the night went on, VVN/Travis Guy
It may not have been their most finessed win of the season, but in the end all that mattered was that the Mingus Union boys' basketball team held on to beat the Coconino Panthers 60-53.
"It's great and anytime you can follow a loss with a win, it's a great thing," said head coach Mark Owens. "While we didn't play as well as we wanted to, we played well enough to win and I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty any day.
"... It's been a tough week physically and emotionally as well," Owens said. "We played two road games to start the week; Monday and Tuesday, both came down to the last possession. It was a tough one to swallow, that loss against Bradshaw. The guys were a little flat today but three games in four days is a lot, that doesn't even really happen in the NBA. With Coco being a makeup game for a snow day, we had to fit it in the schedule."
After the second quarter, the Marauders had a comfortable 10-point lead, 32-22. The way Coconino had been shooting, it looked like Mingus would be able to maintain their lead for the win. Then the panthers came back from the break with the upset in mind.
"These guys, they were more athletic, they could shoot from the perimeter, they could dribble drive," said Zach Simmons.
Bryant Briscoe, who finished the night with 10 points, opened the scoring, but then the Panthers responded with a 9-0 run and within striking distance when Micah Nevarez drained a basket. The remainder of the stanza would be a shootout with both teams trading baskets.
The Panthers were shooting the trey with no regard, missing more than they would make it, but they backed off that approach for the final eight minutes of the contest, instead settling for driving into the paint in hopes of getting an and-1. The strategy worked for the most part, but they were not always able to get the and-1. Through the fourth, Coconino went 8-for-12 from the charity stripe.
"Coco's a good team and they're well coached, and basketball's a game of runs," Owens said. "So good teams that are well-coached are going to make runs, but the thing that I liked about our guys is that they responded to their run, and in the fourth quarter when we needed plays on both ends of the court, we were able to deliver."
But where the visitors were able to close the gap in the third with a 9-0 run, the Marauders iced the game with a 5-3 run.
"We didn't start out as well as we would like to have," Simmons said. "Me personally, I didn't get many boards from the start but ... it was closer than it should have been, but at the end of the game we went on a run in the fourth quarter and sealed the deal towards the end."
Nevarez led the team with 13 points, but was having trouble finding his shot all night. The senior can be a threat from behind the arc, especially when paired with Ashton Loring or Michael Harrison, but on combined, all three Marauders only hit five three's - three from Loring and one a piece for Nevarez and Harrison.
"Micah had a great fourth quarter distributing the basketball, Ashton made a key three and Galloway was playing with one hand, made some big-time moves down low and finished in the paint and did an unbelievable job on the boards," Owens said. "When it came down to it, we made the plays to be able to pull it out."
With only a few games remaining in the regular season, the Marauders need to win out if they have any hopes of making it to the post season. It started yesterday (Jan. 25) at U.S. Airways as the boys played Prescott High School. They follow that up with a game at Northland Preparatory Academy on Jan. 28. They do not return home until Jan. 31 when they face off with Kingman High School in a pivotal Division II, Section 1 clash. Tip off for the Kingman game is at 7 p.m.
"This was definitely a big win," Simmons said. "We need to keep winning our section games, like Flag, Bradshaw, Prescott ... these are all big games because they're all within the section and if we win out then we could definitely make it to the section tournament and possibly advance to the state tournament."