COTTONWOOD- After two losses in a row, the Mingus Marauders boys' basketball team got back on track Friday night taking down the visiting Washington Rams 64-58. The Rams closed the gap late, but the Marauders were able to hold them off late behind some clutch free-throw and three-point shooting.
Still playing without Miles Tapija, Head Coach David Beery elected to switch things up a little bit and started junior guard Issac Escalante in place of senior guard Ashton Loring. Loring still got his minutes and finished with 15, including a lay-up late that gave the Marauders a 10-point lead. Escalante took advantage of his opportunity and showed his worth Friday night, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
One of his baskets came late in the fourth quarter when he diced his way through the Rams defense for an acrobatic lay-up that drew a loud response from the Marauder faithful. He also made another play late, after recovering from getting blocked, Escalante grabbed the loose ball and fed Loring for a huge-three that extended the Marauders lead.
The Marauders held the lead throughout the game after senior guard Evan Snyder hit a jumper in the lane at the end of the 1st quarter for a 13-11 lead. After that the Marauders never trailed again. Early into the second quarter the Marauders were in the bonus from the 6:28 mark on.
Marauder big-man Gerardo Angulo grabbed a long rebound mid-way through the second quarter and fed Loring for his first three-pointer of the game and a two-point lead. Angulo was huge for the Marauders throughout the game, racking up a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Mingus extended their lead to five, when senior point guard Fabian Navarro stole a trick out of Angulo's bag and grabbed his own rebound after a missed shot, only to find the sharp-shooter ready and waiting behind the three-point line for another three. The Marauders went into halftime with a 31-28 lead.
The second half was much of the same for the Marauders. But with about 4-minutes remaining Escalante hit a pair of free throws, and then Washington came storming back with two quick buckets that tied the game at 53. After a quick lay-up the Marauders started to pull away again, with a two-point lead after a quick lay-up, Escalante was fouled again and sent back to the line. The Marauders went on a run, and with a minute remaining the Marauders had built their lead back up to seven and cruised to the final buzzer from there.
This victory ends a two-game losing streak at the hands of the Bradshaw Mountain Bears and the Winslow Bulldogs. The Marauders will now travel to the home of the Phoenix Suns, the Talking Sticks Resort Arena, on Monday to face off with Section IV opponent Moon Valley. The Rockets are 1-0 in the section so far this season and defeated Washington on Tuesday, 80-62. They stand at 3-1 so far this season. Tip-off will be at 3:30 p.m. on Monday.