The sky’s the limit

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Newcomb Skyhawk Shannon Bitsilly (20) and Zuni Thunderbirds Jarek Chimoni-Zunie (3) and Landers Shelendewa (30) go for the ball Friday night in Zuni, New Mexico.

Newcomb boys team have high expectations


When Jamaal Russell completed his master’s degree at Arkansas State University he wanted a fresh start.

As a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball program, Russell was hoping to find another coaching position elsewhere at the collegiate level. And although he didn’t have the connections to find a job at that level, Russell opting for the next best thing.

“I wanted to get out of Arkansas a little bit and I saw a job posting for Newcomb, New Mexico,” Russell said. “I didn’t know where it was and I didn’t know it was on the reservation but I applied for it. I got the position and I am glad that I got it.”

It didn’t take long for the Newcomb coach to get acquainted with ‘rez ball’ and so far that style of play has done wonders for his boys’ basketball team.

The Skyhawks are currently holding a 14-7 record, which includes a 5-0 outing in district play heading into Friday’s game with Rehoboth.

“When I first got here I didn’t know I was going to have this much speed,” Russell said. “I just adjusted my game plan and how I usually like to run things. I adjusted with what the players bring to the table.”

Under Russell’s leadership, the Skyhawks push the pace of the game not through their offense but through their defense.

“The press gets them going so I like for them to press the entire game,” he said.

Newcomb senior Nizhoni Johle says his team likes to get up and down the court.

“We have a lot of speed and we try to use that as an advantage,” he said.

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

Categories: Basketball

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at