Winslow girls successfully defend title

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

WINSLOW, Ariz., December 27, 2012

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(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Valley Sanders Lady Pirates Bettina Swatts gets tangled up with Winslow Lady Bulldogs Laylane Benslow (20) and her teammates during Saturday night's championship game at the Winslow Winter Classic girl's basketball tournament. Winslow defeated the Lady Pirates, 68-55.

SECOND FROM TOP: Valley Sanders Lady Pirates Chelena Betoney (22) drives the ball against Winslow Lady Bulldogs Laylane Benslow (20) on Saturday night at the Winslow Winter Classic girl's basketball tournament championship game. Winslow won the title, 68-55.

T his was a victory that required a lot of fortitude and resilience.

After seeing an 11-3 lead evaporate in a matter of minutes, the Winslow Lady Bulldogs found themselves trailing by as much as 12 points before they were able to contain the hot-shooting Valley Lady Pirates in the championship game of the Winslow Winter Classic on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs closed out the game on a 15-2 run and successfully defended its tournament title with a 68-55 win before a capacity crowd at the Don Petranovich Gym in Winslow.

"It was a very good game, but anytime you have to defend it, it always pretty tough," Lady Bulldog coach Jerron Jordan said. "My hat goes off to Valley because they played a tough ball game. Their kids played well and they had a good tournament.

"They shoot the three-pointers very well, but I also thought our kids played pretty good defense for the most part, especially inside," he added. "We left them free out there on the three-point line, but when it counted the kids defended well."

As a team, the Pirates made 9-of-19 shots from beyond the arc to stymie Winslow. Five of those treys came in the second quarter as Valley led 35-31 at the break.

"We're small compared to most team so we were trying to get somebody open for shots," Valley head coach Julia Six said.

After trailing by eight points, the Pirates ran off the next 11 with Adrinna Nez scoring half of her 16 points.

Two of those baskets came on transition as the senior point guard sprinted ahead of everyone else as Valley led 14-11 at the end of the opening quarter.

Midway through the second, both teams went on a three-point shooting spree as Valley connected on five shots while Winslow had two.

During that spurt, Valley seized its largest lead at 35-23 on a three by Tamara Nez with 2:37 to go.

By staying mobile on the offensive end, Six said they gave themselves opportunities.

"These girls are a little feisty," she said. "They have the speed to do it and we kind of caught them off-guard."

The Bulldogs saved their game face by closing out the half on a 8-0 run and trailed 35-31 at the break with sophomore forward Shandiin Armao scoring six of her 19 points.

"We were a little nervous there, but we had to stay focused and get our heads back into the game," Armao said. "We just stuck with the basics and got ourselves back into the game by driving in the ball."

For the much of the second half, the Pirates held on to that four-point advantage, but with 1:15 to go in the third quarter the former 2A North school lost the service of Adrinna Nez, who left the game with a pulled muscle.

"She's our ball handler," Six said. "Once she got out we kind of struggled, but Winslow figured us out and they shut us down on our threes."

Still the game remained tight as the Bulldogs regained the lead at 56-53 on a trey by Mattea Begaii with 5:34 to go.

Rolanda Mitchell scored Valley's final bucket with 3:07 to go.

After that things got pretty ugly for the Pirates as Mitchell fouled out with 2:55 to go and with nine seconds she was hit with a double technical with Winslow leading 60-55.

Six, who was disappointed with the officiating, said Mitchell would have to sit out the next game per AIA rules.

"There was a lot of physical contact," she said. "They didn't call them so that was a little frustrating."

Down the stretch, Winslow hit 8-of-8 free throws for their 13-point win.

"Valley is a good ball club," Jordan said. "We know we are going to see them again down the road."

Laylane Benslow led the Bulldogs with 21 points, which included five treys, while Armao had 19 and Begaii chipped in 13.

For Valley, Adrinna Nez finished with a game-high 16 points. Kristen Quigley and Chelena Betoney canned 11 points and Tamara Nez added 10.

Third-place game

After defeating Chinle during the regular season by a 24-point margin, the Window Rock Lady Scouts saw a much improved Wildcat team in the third-place game as the Scouts prevailed with a 48-43 win.

"It's all about playing four good quarters and it's something we are trying to stress to the girls," Window Rock coach Charles Chong said.

Chong said his club played passive and very hesitate.

"We have to take care of the ball better," he said. "We have to play better defense and we need to make better decisions on offense."

The Scouts did get a spark from Sky Day as she hit a lay-up in transition midway through the fourth quarter and on their next possession she nailed a three-point shot for a 44-41 cushion.

"We wanted to test our post and that opened up the threes for us," Daye said. "And when we had a chance we wanted to push the ball down the court."

Day finished the game with nine points, which included seven in the fourth quarter.

The Scouts had three players in double figures with Aspen Shepherd and Naomi Klah pumping in 11 points apiece while Arianne Sheka finished with 10.

For Chinle, Kristen Begay had a game-high 17 points.

"The last time we played them we got beat by 24 points," Chinle coach Chad Poi said. "We've talked about that and we knew we are better than that performance. We wanted to prove that to ourselves.

"We wanted to play good defense," he added. "Unfortunately we let it slip away."

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