The Mingus girls basketball team defeated the visiting Sedona Scorpions Monday night in the Marauders' season opener. The win, 58-45 is the second time in two years that Mingus has welcomed the Scorpions to Cottonwood and sent them home with a loss.
The Marauders didn't come out strong, with the young team taking some time to make adjustments. Sedona outscored the Marauders 6-5 in the first quarter. The second quarter went Sedona's way as well as they extended their lead over Mingus, 23-17 by halftime.
At half though, coach Will Rider and his team made the proper adjustments, settled down and started playing smart basketball.
In the third quarter, the Marauders outscored the Scorpions, 21-12 and took over the lead, 38-35. It all came down to the final quarter and the Marauders, on fire, continued to dominate the game and scored 20 points to Sedona's 10 and won the game by 13 points.
"We had all these new bodies that we're trying to get acclimated to new positions," said coach Rider. "It took a while to get our feet from under us. We had some player adjustments that needed to be made."
Junior Christina Hagberg led the Marauders with 15 points, followed by sophomore Rachael Libby with 10 points off of the bench. Kelsey Wokasch and Heather Rux both scored nine points.
"They did a nice job of hanging in there and playing well," said coach Rider. "What was working for Sedona in the first half, we shut them down in the second half. They had a hard time stopping Tina, Heather and Kayla Islas from the inside. They are a huge presence in the inside, they must have blocked six to eight shots in the lane."
The Marauders don't have a very deep bench and the players that they have, have only been practicing for about three weeks, the volleyball players that joined the team late have only been on the court for a week, so bumps in the road were bound to happen, but the team was able to adjust and come back strong enough for the win.
With the team dressing out eight permanent players, the team also has some bubble players they can call on that also play JV. Freshmen playing on the team are Kayla Storie and LaShae Taylor. Sophomore Rachael Libby did an excellent job against Sedona off of the bench.
Juniors Kelsey Wokasch, Christina Hagberg, Sha'Nae Randall and Heather Rux make up the core of the group with the most experience on the court and seniors Merchelle Sloan and Kayla Islas will also add an element of maturity to the team.
Three players that are considered the 'bubble' part of the team are: Freshman Mary Rogers,
Junior Lauren Evans and junior Stephanie Giampietro. Those players will have to work on moving to the higher levels while coach Rider watches to see if anyone separates themselves from the group.
With a very young team and a small team, the Marauders will have to go through some growing pains, but the core of juniors on the court will give the team the much-needed leadership to get through those pains as shown against the Scorpions. Once the younger players settle down, the skill is there to take them past quality teams and have a very successful season.
Next week the Marauders travel to Washington on Monday then host Seton Catholic on Wednesday and Kellis on Thursday. All games start at 7 p.m.