KAYENTA, Ariz. —Chalk up two more victories for the Chinle Wildcats, winning on the road at the Nash Center, home of the Monument Valley Mustangs.
“Always a tough place to win, they (Mustangs) traditionally defend their home turf with pride,” said Chinle head coach Raul Mendoza. “Anyone (teams) coming here must play harder, give that little extra, in order to win here.”
For each 3A north team, each sectional win or loss can make a difference in the standings that determine the 2019 sectional playoff seedings, as well as the state tournament. The sectional tournament is scheduled to start on Feb. 7.
The Chinle Wildcats boys (21-4, 7-0) posted a 62-42 score in the win column over the Monument Valley Mustangs (13-8, 3-4) to remain atop the 3A north section standings.
The Lady Wildcats (13-6, 4-3) won a closely-contested game over the Lady Mustangs ((8-14, 1-6), 51- 45. The Wildcats are in three-way tie with the Tuba City Lady Warriors and Ganado Lady Hornets for second place in the 3A sectional standing. The Page Lady Sand Devils are currently in first place.
Wildcats 62, Mustangs 42
“We want to get back on track tonight with a win,” said Mendoza. “We haven’t been playing well.”
In a pregame interview, Monument Valley’s coach Jacob Nelson said “We got to play as a team, play good defense and play good offensively.”
The Mustangs’ Dahntay Dugi’s basket and Andrew Sheppard’s long range three pointer gave the home team a 5-0 lead early in opening quarter.
The Wildcats responded with senior Angelo Lewis scoring in the paint and his several trips to the charity strip; he accounted for Chinle’s first nine points, part of a 13-5 run that gave the visitors the lead for good. Chinle led 16 to 12 as the quarter ended.
Chinle picked up the offense with ball movement around the perimeter and went on a 11-0 run early in the second quarter to extend their lead by 15 points, 27- 12. The Mustangs manage d a 6-0 run that was nearly equalled by the Wildcats’ 5-2 run as the first half ended 32-20 in Chinle’s favor.
After the intermission break, Chinle coach Mendoza the team needed to do a better job attacking the zone defensive pressure, while Monument Valley coach Nelson said, “we gotta to keep playing harder, we didn’t run our offense — their defensive pressure is hurting us.”
Both teams played a nine point third quarter as Chinle led 41-29.
The final quarter was won by the visiting Wildcats, 21-13 with nonstarters finishing the game. Final score: Chinle 62 Monument Valley 42.
Chinle coach Mendoza was happy with the result.
“I am happy with the results (win), we finally put it back together, like we normally do — we struggled in the first half, we did a better job in the second half.”
“We played with a lot of intensity in all four quarters, we picked it up tonight, better than the past few games” said Kylen Yazzie, Chinle’s’ freshmen starting point guard.
Lewis hit 8 of 9 free throws, plus 12 points in the paint, for a game high total of 20 points. Copper Burbank and Curtis Begay had 17 points and 10 points respectively.
“Chinle is a good team, that’s why they are number one,” Nelson said. “We played a good team, we have things to work on, we will learn from this game.”
Dugi scored a team high 13 points for the Monument Valley Mustangs, followed by Tyler Jacobs with 7 points.
Lady Wildcats 51, Lady Mustangs 45
Monument Valley Lady Mustang Tayla Nez knocked down a huge three point basket, bringing the Mustang crowd to its feet during a February Frenzy-like opening quarter. It was was matched by Chinle’s Grayce Claw’s three pointer — game on.
Then Chinle’s freshman post Aisha Ashley took over, scoring six straight points, which was answered by the Lady Mustangs’ seven point run. The host Lady Mustangs had a single digit lead, 10-9, as the opening quarter ended.
The other half of the Chinle Twin Towers, Stacey Begay, began to control the paint, scoring nine of her team-high 21 points in the second quarter. Not to be outdone, Monument Valley’s Nez, who was on a game-high pace (23 points), scored eight points to cut into the Lady Wildcats’ lead. At intermission, Chinle had coasted to 26-20 lead.
The Lady Mustangs outpointed the Lady Wildcats, 10-7 to own the third quarter, reducing the Wildcats’ lead to three points, 33-30.
Begay scored, banked the ball twice and was forced out past the perimeter, where she then sank a three point basket to increase the Wildcats’ lead to 40-34. The Lady Wildcats and Mustangs scored 11 points each to end the final quarter, 51 to 45 final score, in Chinle’s favor.
“We had a good post-game from our bigs (Begay and Ashley), we had good ball movement, with the girls pounding the ball inside for scores,” said Lady Wildcat head coach Francine McCurtain.
“Stacey had a good game, overall, good team win, with other girls stepping up.”
Begay scored 21 points for the Chinle Lady Wildcats and Delteebaa Nacona added 11 points.
“We played a good team,” commented Monument Valley coach Jason Franklin.
“We didn’t take away their high post play, we didn’t execute our game plan — didn’t shoot well.”
Nez scored on five baskets in the lane, two three pointers and 100 percent from the free throw line (7/7) for a game high total of 23 points. Briana Gillis and Helen Salt contributed six points each.