Three games in four days is a tall order for anyone, but on Jan. 23, the Mingus Union girls' basketball team was able to avoid any kind of letdown as they cruised to a dominant 50-25 win over Wickenburg High School.
"I believe that they were hungry today, coming out the way they did," said co-head coach Dave Moncibaez. "We pressed them right away, we wanted to jump on them right away and we crashed both offensively and defensive boards, so we didn't give them any opportunities to even get into the game."
They played the Wranglers for the first time this season five days earlier, Jan. 18, and grinded out a 44-36 win. That game kicked off a four game stretch of losses sandwiched by the Wickenburg wins.
"Second time [we have played Wickenburg], first time fully healthy," Moncibaez said. "[There was a] major difference. We got into foul trouble early down there in Wickenburg, and it took us out of the game. We pulled away but they got some quick ones and pulled within 10. So major difference. Different story here at home."
The girls were beaten 58-36 at Winslow and followed that up with a tough game against Bradshaw Mountain. Due to a pipe bursting, the game was pushed back a day to Jan. 22. While the Marauders were able to drop 50 points on the Bears in their first meeting of the season, a 68-50 loss, they could only manage 34 in their second meeting, 47-34.
"It felt great," said Kylie Streck. "It was amazing having a nice win after a tough loss, even though we tried hard [against Bradshaw]."
Enter the short-handed Wranglers (they were without leading scorer, and rebounder, Cora Moralez, who suffered a knee injury against Camp Verde on Jan. 7 and has not returned) as the sacrificial lambs.
Wickenburg was held to single-digit quarters all game. Mingus' defense was so stringent that it only allowed on point in the second quarter. The most the Wranglers scored in eight minutes? Nine points in the third.
On the other side of the score sheet, the Marauders opened and closed the game with nine point quarters, but in-between they drained 17 going into the break and 15 coming out of it.
"No one took it over, it was a team effort," Moncibaez said. "No one stood out; we all moved the ball very well. Everybody got touches most of the time. Working the ball like that allows opportunities to open up to score."
While the win did not count for section, the win was needed. Now the girls have four games remaining on the slate. They play their final three section games first; at Kingman (Jan. 31), hosting Coconino (Feb. 4 at 8 p.m.) and at Prescott on Feb. 6. They end the season at rival Sedona Red Rock High School on Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.
"We're not panicking, we know what we need to do (win out) and we're just going to cross our fingers [and hope] we get in," Moncibaez said. "We're going to work hard, we're going to take it to the teams. The teams that we play, it seems like everybody's beating each other and we're hanging in those ball games, so I think we have a good chance as long as we play hard."
Streck added that the team needs to "win the rest," which is all they can do and hope things shake out in their favor.