COTTONWOOD - The Mingus Marauders boys basketball team beat the Camp Verde Cowboys, 52-44, in front of a packed crowd in the Mingus gym Thursday night. A raucous environment and a home court advantage helped propel the Marauders to victory.
For the first time this year Mingus fans came ready to cheer, and the players gave them something to cheer for.
"It was super exciting. The boys played their hearts out tonight and they deserved every cheer from this crowd and the players knew we were right behind them," said Mingus cheer captain Stephanie Gilboy.
A solid team effort and great defense down the stretch won the game, but the crowd support gave the Marauders a little boost when they needed it most.
"That was the biggest I've ever seen our crowd," said junior point guard Rashonn Montgomery. He made seven pressure free throws on eight attempts in the final minutes of the game. "We played as a team," was his response when asked how his squad was victorious.
Clancy Odegard also stepped up offensively in the second half, scoring 13 of his 15 points after the break.
"It feels great to get this win against Camp Verde. Coach got us pumped up at halftime. He believes in us, and we believe in ourselves in crunch time," said Odegard. "We definitely fed off the energy of the crowd. It was awesome to see everyone support us like that."
The cross-valley game came down to the final two minutes and the Marauders showed they're no longer the bottom feeders along the Verde River. Last year Camp Verde didn't lose to a Verde Valley team and the Mingus game wasn't close. Oh what a difference a year makes.
Great entertainment for spectators, heart palpitating for coaches and parents, the game between two evenly matched teams had many lead changes. The final eight points Mingus won by represented the largest lead of the night and was supplemented by game lengthening free throws at the end of the contest.
The Cowboys didn't score for the first four minutes of the game. It took Camp Verde a while to get going, and although they kept the game close and led for a good amount of the game, the 'Boys never found a rhythm against a stout Marauder defense.
"Our defending and rebounding keeps us in games and when we score we're a tough out for anyone," said Mingus boys basketball head coach Mark Owens. "When we start making our free throws and finishing around the rim, maybe hit a three or two, I think we're a tough team to beat and we're really turning a corner. The guys believe in themselves and the system. This was a great win against a scrappy, tough, well-coached Camp Verde team."
The win is the third in a row for the Marauders and improves Mingus' record to 7-13 overall (4-8 in power-point games). Headed to Sedona Friday night to take on the Scorpions, the Marauders have a good chance to keep their win streak alive against a team they already beat once in tournament play this season.
"One of the things that has helped us turn the corner is I feel we have an unbelievable coaching staff. They're the glue that really holds everything together. They're second to none and their basketball knowledge and their support in me, our system, and our program -- I'm forever indebted. Some of the calls and adjustments they suggest and the advice they give is one of the reasons we've started to win games, in addition to the hard work that the kids put in. It's a pleasure to work with such fine people," said Owens.
The next game between the two schools: Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Camp Verde High School. Expect more gym-rocking excitement.
Top Mingus Performers
Clancy Odegard: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal (off the bench)
Rashonn Montgomery: 14 points, 3 assists, 1 steal (11-13 from the line)
Francisco Romero: 5 rebounds (off the bench)
Evan McFarland: 9 points, 5 rebounds
Alex Brewer: 4 points, 5 rebounds
Top Camp Verde Performers
Jacob Lewis: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Brian Hudson: 9 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
Mitch Latham: 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists
Johnny Hudson: 7 points, 5 rebounds