After starting the season with a bang against Sedona Red Rock, the Mingus Union boys basketball team was "outclassed" in every area of the game against Barry Goldwater High School, dropping the game 84-46 on Dec. 9.
"You know, it was, we were just completely outclassed by Barry Goldwater," said head coach Mark Owens. "From our head coaches, to our assistants, to our players, to our managers, to our bus driver, to everything. There wasn't anything we did well, and as a head coach, that's a loss that I take full responsibility for. I just did not prepare the guys well enough for what's to come."
While Owens is taking responsibility for the loss, the Bulldogs are a team that has one win in eight games. While a number of the losses were close, four losses of less than 10 points, three losses are by more than 20 points.
This was an example of a team, the Marauders, not having the proper game plan and being able to adjust, and the other team, Goldwater, having the hot hand, the correct game plan and the ability to take advantage of a situation. That is not to say that the Marauders were not doing what they could to win.
"We didn't come out flat, we played hard, [but] we didn't execute as well as we could have," Owens said. "They made shots, they exploited us down low, and again I take full responsibility for not coming up with a better game plan for us to compete."
Mingus had energy and played hard, but they were not the better team that night. This is that one game out of 10 that the Bulldogs would win if they played the Marauders that many times. The one anomaly, and they proved that in their next games.
"That's definitely something that won't happen to us again," Owens said. "We've had a great two days of practice and we've really gotten after it and the guys got better."
First they went to Payson and almost doubled the score on the Longhorns, trouncing them 70-37. Then, at the first day of the Cage Classic, a tournament held at Wickenburg High School, the Marauders blew by three teams. Salome, Phoenix Christian and the host school were not able to contain Mingus Union. They won the games 40-24, 50-30 and 56-41 respectively.
This was all possible because after the sour taste of the Goldwater loss, the Marauders went back to practice and Owens changed things up. He switched players' positions, increased the intensity and made sure that the competition for varsity spots was still there.
"We've revved up the competition in practice, we've shuffled some guys into different positions, different roles, different expectations, giving some of our young guys opportunities and we challenged our upper classmen just to be better and have more production and to continue to be positive in the locker room," Owens said.
All this to make sure that does not happen again.
Sure, the Marauders could be sitting pretty at 6-0, instead of a blemished 5-1 record. But in the end, the loss may have done the team some good. It serves as a reminder that anything can happen. A good team can lose to a bad team, so they have to make sure they do everything in their power to avoid that going forward.
Look for a full recap of the Payson game and the Cage Classic in Wednesday's paper and the Marauders return to action on Dec. 17 when they travel back to Wickenburg for a regular season game. They return home to Mingus on Dec. 20 to host Coconino High School.