|Junior Michael Harrison jumps and reaches for a rebound during the Marauders exhibition with Alchesay. Harrison led the Marauders in scoring against the Sedona Red Rock Scorpions, giving Mingus Union its first win of the season. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Senior Talon Walz launches a pass from one side of the court to the other in a scrimmage at the Marauder’s preseason jamboree. Walz erupted for double-digit scoring in the third quarter of the Marauders’ 67–33 trouncing of the Scorpions. VVN/Travis Guy|
The Mingus Union boys basketball team always expects a tough out from Sedona Red Rock, but a third quarter burst iced the game for the Marauders, giving them the 67-33 win over their rivals.
"It felt really good," said junior Michael Harrison. "Playing Sedona, it was a big game, there were a lot of people there and it feels good to shut a lot of people that were talking trash up."
Going into the break, the blowout was not a given. The Marauders had a slight seven-point lead, up 27-20.
"The final score is never indicative of how the game actually went," said head coach Mark Owens. "While we've had some success vs. Sedona, it's never come easy. It's usually just a late run at the end of the game that separates it. For two, two and a half quarters, it was an even game going back and forth. It was fun and I'm glad we came out on top."
During half time, Owens had his team tighten up the defense, attack the boards and lay-off the fouls. It worked. Senior Talon Walz "exploded" in the third with 10 points, spurring his team to play that much harder.
"We just quit slapping on defense," Walz said. "We buckled down, played our ball got help defense and shut them down."
While Walz had the hot-hand during the third, it was junior Michael Harrison that was hot through the entire game. Harrison notched his first 20-point game of the season, keeping the Marauder in the contest during a lack-luster first half of shooting.
"We didn't shoot it as well as we could have in the first half," Owens said. "Mike Harrison had four threes in the first half and helped us to stay in the game. We just tightened it up on defense, Talon Walz exploded in the third quarter, gave us a much needed offensive lift and the guys rallied around him and we were able to pull away."
Going into the game, Harrison knew that he would be on fire, saying that he had a feeling during warm-ups.
"It all started from pre-game," Harrison said. "I knew that was going to be my game. I felt it, came out shooting and they fell."
For where his team is at right now, Owens is happy. He has seen growth in the players and team as a whole, but stressed that it needs to continue through the season.
"I was definitely satisfied with the individual and collective performances that we had from the guys," Owens said. "The guys need to continue to get better individually and we need to continue get better collectively at both ends of the court. If we do that, I think we have a chance to be competitive every night."
Even though it was the opening game, it was how the Marauders wanted to start the season, and the gravity of the rivalry was not lost on them either.
"It was pretty big," Walz said. "They're the closest team we play, so they're rivals. It's bragging rights. It was awesome how good our defense was that we played and it was just all-around good win."
The Marauders will be back in action on today, Dec. 6, at the Red Rock Hoops Classic, at Sedona Red Rock High School. The tournament goes on until Dec. 7.