Marv Sanders boys basketball tournament

Despite losses, teams gain experience at Marv Sanders tourney

By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
For the Navajo Times

FARMINGTON, Dec. 20, 2012

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There was a little bit of something gained for the eight teams in this year's Marv Sanders Boys Basketball Invitational held at Farmington High on Dec. 13-15.

Some teams made some tough realizations, some a glimpse of what they could be like later in the season and others simple got to have some new experiences.

Here's a look at what some coaches had to say about the weekend:

San Juan

The San Juan Broncos (5-3), a 2A team, defeated the 1A Red Mesa Redskins (4-7) 67-31 for a seventh-place finish.

The Broncos came out strong and led the Redskins 24-12 at the end of the first quarter. Red Mesa battled the first part of the quarter but the Broncos' defense held the Redskins to two points in the whole second quarter, leading them 37-15.

San Juan head coach Jason Torgerson said his knew that Red Mesa was young but he also knew not to underestimate them, which came handy once Red Mesa stepped up.

"They're young, we looked at their roster they have a lot of young kids, freshmen, they're only going to get better. They had some good shooters," he said.

San Juan first took a 73-36 loss to Montwood in the opening round of the tournament then lost 76-68 to Shiprock.

"The Montwood team was good, they took it to us, then we got ShiprockÉ we're pretty evenly matched but they took it to us, we had to come from behind, kind of made it close but they handled us pretty easy," Torgerson said. "We just came out flat and they're a good teamÉthey have a lot of their kids back, they're good shooters."

Red Mesa

The 1A Red Mesa Redskins (4-7) were 0-3 in the tournament. They first took a 74-32 loss to host team Farmington, then a 73-36 loss to Texas' Fabens and then finally their last loss was to San Juan (5-3), 67-31.

Red Mesa head coach Boyd Johnson said he knew his team was probably the youngest and smallest of the teams but that didn't stop them from taking advantage of the learning experience.

Johnson said in every game his team was able to get some points up.

"The game plan was to learn more how big schools play," Johnson said. "We have a couple guys that can really shootÉsometimes they kind of get scared of shooting, I try to tell them just keep shooting, keep shooting that's what we need to work on when we get back."

Johnson said when it came to Farmington and Fabens, his team got an idea of the types of things they need to work on.

"I just told the guys at halftime (against Fabens) they can be with any team if they try hard enough," he said. "ÉThey know that they can run with some big schools so all these games did help on how to come back on themÉthey actually reacted to it, they know how to handle it well.

"Their defense is coming together, they're great, and they're getting there."


Shiprock (6-2) took a tough 59-58 loss to Piedra Vista (2-4) in the opening round of the tournament. They then defeated San Juan 76-68 and then Fabens for fifth place.

In the first half alone Shiprock had 20 missed field goals out of the 37 attempts.

But it was the team's defense that held steady and secured the win.

Shiprock head coach Chester Atcitty, Jr., said it was those tough shots that ultimately will make them better.

"At the state level those shots are going to be that difficult, playing a competitive team like Fabens, Texas that tells us that we are on the right road prepping for that state championshipÉ we can't just rely on the outside shot," Atcitty said. "I was happy with the defensive effort, yes, we're getting better definitely."

Atcitty said the game could have gone either way. Shiprock faced a penalty as there was a mix-up with his team's roster and the officials at the score table.

"We knew it was going to be competitive against PV, bottom line, it's always a great game with them and it took a lot out of us. Either way it could have gone either way, we could have won but we ended up coming up short, unfortunately situations happened in the game and it's beyond our control," he said "We got to live with it."


It was a first-time appearance for the 3A Fabens Wildcats (7-9) from El Paso. The Wildcats first lost 67-64 to Gallup then defeated Red Mesa 73-36 and took another loss to Shiprock for the fifth-place title.

Fabens head coach David Rueda said his team didn't play to their capabilities and it didn't help that Shiprock had some hot-handed shooters.

"They've got some good shooters like Justin Begay, we tried to do something different but I think we just ran out of gas," Rueda said. "At half time I basically said we need to start playing, this is not usÉI don't think we came out fired up right away with a lot of heart."

Rueda, who was an assistant coach for Montwood, recently started coaching at Fabens, and said he knew about the tournament from his Montwood days and though his team needed to experience it.

He said his team learned a lot about themselves as a team.

"It looks like we play up to the big schools and then we kind of play down to the small ones," he said. "With Shiprock, I told them Shiprock's going to come after you. I don't know why they came out that way again. It's just inconsistency."


The Farmington Scorpions (1-5) were looking for their first win of the season coming into their own tournament but garnered two wins.

The Scorpions first defeated Red Mesa 74-32 in the opening day of the tournament, then they met Gallup in a rematch and took another loss to the Bengals 52-46, until they met cross-town rivals Piedra Vista and took the third-place win with a score of 67-61.

Piedra Vista led most of the first half and led the Scorpions 35-24 at the break.

Farmington head coach Paul Corley said the key to the win was their ability to play smart and keep calm.

"ÉI have a group of seniors, this is their last year, this is the last time they have this tournament for themÉthey kind of had the eye of the tiger and I can tell they weren't going to loseÉ" he said. "When we cut the gap to two or three I could see a huge momentum shift and their team kind of got a little panicky..."

As far as the tournament goes, Corley said all the coaches have already expressed an interest in returning for the tournament next season.

"They love coming up here they love the crowds, I know some of the teams from Texas said they don't play in front of crowds like this," he said "They really enjoy that."

Piedra Vista

Much like their cross-town rivals, the Piedra Vista Panthers were looking for a win in the three-day tournament.

The Panthers (2-4) got their only win against Shiprock with a close 59-58 victory. They then took a loss against Montwood 75-27 and fell to Farmington 67-61 for third place.

Piedra Vista head coach Adam Huff said his team could do better than they actually did.

"I felt we were a better team and we wanted to show it. I wanted a double-digit win," he said. "I felt in the fourth quarter we kind of fell apart at the end, it don't know if it was part fatigue or what, basically we gave them the game."

The Panthers also gave up four points to two technical calls.

"We've got to work on finishing," Huff said. "Having a big lead going into the fourth quarter, the other thing is we gave up 29 points to Farmington in the fourth quarter."

Huff said in the two previous games, Shiprock was aggressive but his team was able to handle it, but that wasn't the case when they met Montwood.

"(I told the guys) not be sacred and to go play," he said. "We knew they were a good team."

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