PAYSON- The Mingus boys basketball team has a group of players that can take over a game on any given night.
Monday night, it was junior guard Issac Escalante's turn. The junior, who has been in and out of the starting line-up this season, earned the start Tuesday night and showed Head Coach Dave Beery exactly what he could do, scoring the first four points for the Marauders.
On the first Marauders offensive possession, four out of five players didn't even have to cross the half-court line as senior guard Ashton Loring hit Escalante in stride with a full-court pass for an easy lay-up.
Escalante didn't need any help on the next possession taking the ball all the way to the basket himself for an easy lay-up.
The Marauders cruised took an early eight-point lead through the first quarter that ended with an Issac Escalante fast-break and-one lay-up.
Before Monday night the Marauders had suffered four losses in their last five-games with their only win coming over No. 42 ranked Washington.
The four losses came against three top-20 ranked Division III opponents, and the fourth came against Pine View High School out of St. George, Utah.
Mingus didn't allow that losing streak to grow any larger. After jumping out to a quick lead, Mingus did not let up throughout the first-half as they built their lead up to 51-27 before the halftime buzzer sounded.
Of those 51 points, Escalante was responsible for 25 of them, including one late in the half courtesy of Loring once again. Loring finished with five assists and nine points on the night.
The senior guard threw a lofting pass that resembled a fade pass from Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald. The pass dropped right over Escalante's shoulder out of the reach of Payson guard Julian Parker and Escalante took it the rest of the way for an easy two points that put the Marauders up by 20.
Escalante cooled off in the second-half, only scoring two-points, but he finished three rebounds and two assists shy of a triple-double with seven rebounds and eight assists.
For most of the game, the Marauders were without big man Gerardo Angulo who received a technical foul late in the first quarter after a scuffle with Payson's Brigham Flake on a loose ball.
Angulo was missed but senior forward Joe Doerksen filled in well off the bench for the Marauders tallying eight points, five rebounds, and a huge block on a Longhorns fast-break that got the Marauders bench on their feet.
Mingus also received quite the performance from junior forward Miles Tapija, who benefited from the long break as he was recovering from injury and sickness.
Tapija finished with eight points and six rebounds Monday night but his biggest contribution came in the second half. The undersized forward held down the paint for the Marauders rejecting three different Longhorn shots in the paint.
Beery emptied the bench late in the second-half to get his bench players some time as the Marauders lead continued to grow. As the final horn rang, Mingus went home with a 79-54 victory.
This puts the No. 24 Marauders at 4-4 overall and 1-2 in section. With 10 games remaining on their schedule the Marauders have a string of Division III Section IV games coming up that include match-ups with No. 5 Cortez, No. 14 North Canyon, and No. 13 Prescott.
The Marauders could make a move up the section ranks and the division ranks in the coming weeks that will put them in great position as the season comes to an end.
Mingus will travel to Cortez on Tuesday night. The Colts are coming off a three-point loss to Bradshaw Mountain on December 17.
The Marauders will take on North Canyon Friday night at home. The Marauders took down North Canyon earlier in the season by nine points. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.