When a team goes into a day not sure if they are going to be practicing or traveling to Flagstaff for a game, it is hard to prepare for that, even harder when it is on a Monday.
That is what happened to the Mingus Union girls' basketball team. After having its game at Flagstaff High School canceled due to snow, coaches Art and Dave Moncibaez were not sure when the game would be rescheduled. Neither did their players.
On Monday, Dec. 9, the team was told to bring their practice and game gear, because they might have a game. Sure enough, they did travel up the mountain.
"We had to bring our practice stuff too, so we weren't sure if we were playing at all, and we weren't prepared for it, so we did pretty bad," said senior Amber Rippy.
To say that the Marauders were under-prepared may be an understatement (aside from the fact that it is hard to prepare for a game on a few hours notice), but Dave said that there is no excuse for the 78-31 beating the girls took.
"No, it wasn't [pretty]," Dave said. "We weren't even sure we were playing them until the last minute. No excuses, they were the better prepared team that night."
With the Flagstaff game behind them, the girls prepared for Payson, topping the Longhorns and making a statement in the process.
Bigs Heather Calandra and Lexie Kleinman got into foul trouble early. With their post players benched with two fouls each in the first half, the Maruaders had to adjust on the fly. Going into the break, they were down 21-17. Moncibaez turned to sophomores Jordan Bower and Sharron Rehborg to fill in at the post.
"It hurt us tremendously," the younger Moncibaez said. "We had players playing out of position and they did a fairly good job, Sharron Rehborg and Jordan Bowers gave us some good, quality minutes to allow our bigs to get time run off the clock so we could get them back in."
Entering the third stanza, the Marauders matched the Longhorns with 12 points, but the deciding quarter was the final one. The Marauders defense put up a bakers dozen and held the home team to a measly four points.
As the fouls piled up, the bench began to shrink. Fueled by the work they had put in to get there, Rippy and senior Danielle Valenzuela played quality minutes and spent a majority of the time on the court. Rippy dropped 14 points on the Longhorns. Senior Monica Soliz added another 14.
"I think just wanted to win really bad because we had put so much effort into it and I thought we should win it for the people that fouled out," Rippy said.
The senior was the difference and surprised her coaches with how she was able to take control of the game and have such a large impact.
"Amber Rippy took control of that game," Moncibaez said. "Daniel Valenzuela gave us some good, quality minutes, she played the majority of the game as well, but Amber Rippy was the tip of the sword in that game."
While the girls caught fire in the second half, they shot an abysmal 15-36 from the charity stripe and were still able to overcome Payson.
Now the girls prepare to host Wickenburg on Dec. 17. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in the main gym.
"They came together," Moncibaez said. "I mean, it seems like day-by-day they keep coming together and I think they're surprising themselves at the same time, because they're realizing that when they come together as a team, they can be very successful."
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