COTTONWOOD – Groundhog Day ended a few days ago but Friday night’s game had a familiar feeling to it for Mingus Union girls basketball.
The No. 21 Lady Marauders (7-11) lost 43-38, in a similar fashion to their Jan. 10 defeat at the hands of the Volunteers, 41-37, in Cottonwood.
“The girls played extremely well first, second and third and part of the fourth quarter,” said Mingus Union head coach Frank Nevarez. “What happened to us is the first time we played Lee Williams in Cottonwood, we lost our lead and eventually lost the game there towards the middle of the fourth quarter. The same thing happened to us last night.”
Two Lady Marauders had double doubles: junior small forward Nikki Zielinski had 11 points, 12 rebounds and four steals and sophomore shooting guard/small forward Darien Loring scored 16 points to go with 10 rebounds.
The loss was Mingus Union’s fifth straight, but the 38 points is their most during the streak.
“We just went cold in the fourth quarter,” Nevarez said. “We did very well against them in the first three quarters. The fourth quarter, they scored 21 and we scored 18. We just could not make a play, we had our shots, we just could not make a play.”
In the first round of the Grand Canyon Region tournament, the Lady Marauders are expected to face Lee Williams (12-11) again.
Nevarez thinks playing better in their final regular season game could carry over for Mingus Union, but also fears how hard it could be to overcome the psychological block of losing to the team in the same way.
“I’m really going to have to motivate my girls, only because losing twice to the same team in the same way, it can get into your head,” Nevarez. “So on Monday, we’re going to have to go out there with a different resolve, we’re going to have to go out there knowing that we can beat this team. We had them beat twice, up until the fourth quarter, so it did give us some momentum at the same time, but if we’re not careful, it can play with our minds.”
As of press time, the Lady Marauders sit in sixth place in the Grand Canyon Region with a 3-9 record, half a game behind Prescott, but the Badgers have a game left with No. 3 Coconino, so Mingus Union is expected to move up to fifth to face fourth place Lee Williams on Monday morning at Flagstaff.
No. 17 Lee Williams has won two of their last three games.
“If everything goes as we think they should, we probably will play Lee Williams again on Monday,” Nevarez said.