Cold shooting hampers D’back boys

By From page A10 | December 06, 2013

EL DORADO — It was cold outside Union Mine’s gym Tuesday evening but colder inside as the host Diamondbacks struggled from the perimeter in their nonleague matchup with Argonaut at the Snake Pit.

Though Union Mine sank five three-pointers, the D’backs missed many times that — along with a variety of others — and fell to the Mustangs 65-44.

“I don’t think we hit back-to-back shots all night and never went on a run,” Union Mine coach Mike Verbitsky said.

While the D’backs looked like a typical early-season team, the Mustangs didn’t. Behind a combined 36 points from post players Kenny Litchfield and Brandon Sheppard, Argonaut was in midseason form.

“In talking to their coach they believe this is their year. They played loose and their shots were falling,” Verbitsky said.

The Mustangs led 22-7 after the first quarter and 37-19 at the half. D’back Austin Russell, 5-of-8 on threes in Union Mine’s two-point loss to Amador Saturday, never got going against Argonaut.

Despite forcing the visitors into a series of third-quarter turnovers and scoring 17 points in the fourth, including nine by Michael O’Neill (11 points), the D’backs never gained significant ground in making up their deficit.

“For the most part it wasn’t our lack of effort … any mistakes we can correct,” Verbitsky said. “We’re a young team and the year will be a lot about teaching and developing guys.”

Verbitsky started two sophomores Tuesday, O’Neill and Austin Helmholz, along with seniors Tyler Parker, Tommy Tolman and Russell.

Rounding out the roster is senior sharp-shooter Sean Verbitsky, senior Brett Owens, senior Esteban Gonzalez, senior Josh Richards, senior Derek Stirling, senior Ryan Nguyen and sophomores Andrew Vaughn and Brody Pearman.

Union Mine could see Argonaut again this weekend as the D’backs play in the Argonaut Tournament.

Jerry Heinzer

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