Miyamura captures Rehoboth Invitational title
By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
REHOBOTH, N.M., December 6, 2012
(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)
M ost teams would likely fold in their next game after a triple-overtime victory, but not the Miyamura Patriots.
The Patriots used their momentum from their triple-overtime victory over Tohatchi on Nov. 30 to capture the Rehoboth Invitational Saturday night over the tournament's defending champion, Santa Fe Prep, 52-37.
In other tournament action, Rehoboth beat Tohatchi for third place, 64-60, and Thoreau defeated Newcomb, 62-53, for fifth place. Dulce beat Gallup Catholic, 65-19, for seventh place.
Rehoboth head coach Kevin Zwiers said this year's tournament field was strong, with some March Madness-type games.
"The tournament has been awesome," he said. "We had some very good teams. It's a great environment and great experience."
Miyamura head coach Matt Vail credited teamwork for the tournament championship.
"I thought the team did awesome today," Vail said. "Talk about a total team effort."
Throughout the whole tournament the Patriots relied on a balanced attack. Against Santa Prep, the Patriots had two different players score in double figures, with Zach Shank leading the way with 14 points and Austin Smith with 10. Vincent Begay had 9, while Ryan Begay scored 8 points.
To get to the championship, the Patriots first had to beat Newcomb, which they did on Nov. 29 with a score of 68-50.
In the semifinals, Miyamura barely edged Tohatchi, winning 51-48 in dramatic fashion. On Saturday, the Patriots completed a full circle to improve their overall record to 3-0.
On Tuesday, the Patriots were in action against Piedra Vista. As of press time on Wednesday, scores were unavailable for the game.
Despite losing their first two games of the season, and going 1-2 in their own tournament, the Rehoboth Lynx are focusing on ways to improve.
Finishing third place in their tournament is considered progress, head coach Kevin Zwiers said.
"We are a really, really young and inexperienced team," he said. "Every game we just grow up a little bit more."
By growing up, Zwiers means shutting the door on any momentum changes that occur throughout the course of a game. One example of this was their game against Tohatchi in the third-place game.
Trailing 45-36 at the end of third period, Tohatchi went on a 10-0 run with its full-court press to tie the score at 45-all.
But huge plays by senior point guard Cody Tom and post Mathias Milford deflected that run as both players connected on isolation plays with each other.
A crucial sequence of the game occurred when Tom drove end-to-end through the Cougar press to assist a slashing Milford for a three-point play. Milford hit the free throw for a 55-51 lead, and on Rehoboth's next possession Tom broke the press and scored for a 57-51 lead, with 47 seconds left in the game.
The Lynx went 3-for-4 at the charity stripe in the final minutes of the game for the 64-60 victory.
"We really went out there and played our defense," Tom said of how the Lynx were able to prevail against the Cougars. "It was teamwork. That's what we need every game to play as a team."
Tom had 15 points for the Lynx, while Milford finished with a game-high 18 points.
Milford said teamwork made it possible for the Lynx to come out on top against the Cougars.
"Today we put it together and had a great game," he said. "It was a team effort and putting the pieces together. It was a lot of teamwork."
Last year the Lynx took fifth place, and according to Zwiers, improvement and hard work is all that he is looking for each game as the season goes on.
"What we're excited about is improvement. That is what we work toward everyday," he said, adding that his team is mostly made up of former junior varsity players, except for two varsity lettermen.
"We have a couple of guys with varsity experience, but not very many," Zwiers added. "It's a lot of new faces, a lot of new guys coming from the J.V. team. We are getting them up to speed on varsity basketball."
Rehoboth's next game is against Laguna-Acoma on Dec. 11. The Hawks return a lot including Austin Jones, Augustus Cuch, and Anthony Carpio from last year's 24-1 team.
"They're a tough team again this year," Zwiers said. "They didn't graduate much, going undefeated until they got to the state tournament last year. They're going to be a tough test for us early in the season."
If there is one thing the Tohatchi Cougars (1-2) should be proud of, it's that they took eventual tournament champion, 4A Miyamura, to the distance in a semifinal matchup on Nov. 30.
But going into the contest against Rehoboth for third-place honors, Tohatchi head coach Albert Jim knew his team's performance in the semifinals could either help or cost them.
As the final score line indicated, it cost the Cougars.
"It took us three and a half quarters to finally find our legs and shooting range and start working our offense," Jim said. "You can expect those things with the type of ball game we had with Miyamura."
Senior post Kyle Wylie agreed with his coach, saying, "Coach told us it would be a tough game for us because we had went into three OTs. I think we came out overconfident for a while and started playing catch-up."
Despite the loss to their district rival in a game that doesn't count toward the standings, Jim said he was "happy with the outcome of this game."
From the tournament, the veteran coach learned that his team is able to maintain composure, a trait last year's 16-11 squad didn't have.
"Last year we collapsed many times during the ball game, but this year we're able to compose ourselves in tight situations," Jim said, adding that with eight returning players and two additions provides for a "durable roster."
"Right now we have a pretty durable roster of 10," he said. "We got two sprained ankles and a knee that hasn't healed completely. Once we get those injuries remedied we will be a lot stronger."
Tohatchi's next game is on Saturday against Wingate.
"That's the rivalry game," Jim said about the Cougars and the Bears. "It doesn't get any easier than this, so this tournament was a stepping stone towards that night."