COTTONWOOD- It was a special season for the Mingus Marauders boys' basketball program and it won't be forgotten by many people in the Verde Valley. A program was put back on the map, do to hard work, dedication and a little bit of confidence.
The Marauders didn't grow overnight, but they stuck to the program and they grew as a team over the season, which was special to see for Head Coach David Beery.
"They started to believe they could win and could see their work paying off, it really fed into a self-perpetuating cycle that built success and confidence," Beery said. "I don't think student-athletes always realize until it's too late, how important confidence is in your ability to be successful in athletics at the high school level."
For five Marauders, their efforts were recognized as Ashton Loring (1st team), Fabian Navarro (2nd team), Issac Escalante (2nd team), Gerardo Angulo (Honorable Mention), and Miles Tapija (Honorable Mention) the hard work was recognized as they received Division III Section IV All-Section Honors.
They weren't the only ones though, Head Coach David Beery was honored as the Division III Section IV Coach of the Year after the Marauders took down the North Canyon Rattlers in the Section IV Championship this year. Both teams ended up receiving bids to the Division III State Tournament, both falling in the quarterfinals.
"The Coach of the Year award was great to receive," Beery said after his second-year at the helm at Mingus Union High School. "I've coached long enough to know that the winner of the section/division/state almost always receives the award. I didn't teach our guards to shoot or our bigs to rebound. However, it's nice to be recognized for the amount of work that went into this season."
The Marauders finished with an overall record of 22-8 after falling to the Winslow Bulldogs by one-point in the quarterfinals at Gila River Arena in Glendale. They were led by senior point guard Ashton Loring who received the only first-team nod for the Marauders and earned an Honorable Mention for the All-Division team as well. Beery said not only did Loring grow as player but as a leader as well.
"Ashton did all the things asked of him and more, "Beery said. "He became a point guard, he had to adjust his style of leadership, and he was still able to be a consistent scoring threat."
Navarro and Escalante both received second-team nods for the Marauders as they were both consistent scoring threats throughout the season.
Navarro was a sniper from beyond the perimeter as he established himself as a consistent threat from the three-point line.
"He [Fabian] was incredibly consistent this year and I didn't realize how consistently he would shoot the ball and I'm a huge fan of his," Beery said of his senior shooting guard.
Escalante, was a threat in the paint throughout the season, always finding a way past opposing defenders. He'll be one returner that Beery will count on next year and he will be joined by All-Section Honorable Mention Miles Tapija.
"On a senior-led team; Miles and Issac really set themselves apart with their contributions on the court this season," Beery said. "Both young men improved a lot from the summer and were very difficult players for our opponents to figure out. Issac sees the floor well and has an innate ability to get to the hoop. Miles has a tremendous basketball IQ, and always puts himself in the right spot to be successful. I'm excited to see what these guys do next year."
The big-man who manned the paint for the Marauders all season long, Gerardo Angulo, was the final Marauder to earn All-Section Honors.
He improved as the season went on and was a force to be reckoned with during the Division III Section IV tournament, battling against the top big-men in the section. Beery said it was nice for the big-man to get recognized after a "steady and consistent" season.
The Marauders will return three players that saw significant time on the court this season, as Tapija and Escalante will be joined by Victor Anaya, who saw played a significant role in the Marauders run this season. Beery said the team will have a busy June and summer basketball program.
"We really need to develop some younger players, get in the weight room, and continue working to improve every day," Beery said.
Will the Marauders make a run back to the big dance in their 2016-2017 campaign?