'Prep falls short in championship game
By Sunnie Clahchischiligi
Special to the Times
RIO RANCHO N.M., January 3, 2013
(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)
D efense is what Albuquerque Academy does best, so when it came to defeating Navajo Prep for the 2nd Annual New Mexico American Indian Basketball Classic title, it was no surprise when a last second steal secured the win.
"Our defense is good, they're used to running and if you don't let them run they don't really know what to do," Albuquerque Academy coach Taryn Bachis said.
The 3A Lady Chargers (3-7) defeated the young 2A (4-4) Navajo Prep Lady Eagles 35-34 Saturday night at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M.
And much like their two previous games in the tournament it wasn't easy. The Lady Chargers gained the early edge, leading the Lady Eagles 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, which included a 7-0 run in the closing minutes.
With about 10 missed field goals in the second quarter alone, Navajo Prep was able to keep the game close holding the Charger to four points and trailing 17-14 at the half.
Navajo Prep came back in the third quarter and tied the game up at 19; from then on they continued to play catch up.
Navajo Prep coach Rainy Crisp said like in previous games her team had a hard time pulling away from the Chargers and that the little mistakes didn't help.
"We couldn't really pull away like we wanted, just like tonight we would tie it up or get ahead and then they would score again…against any solid team we've been playing we cannot continue to play catch up," Crisp said. "With a young team that's something that we're going to have to get soon."
With about 40 seconds left and down two points the Lady Eagles had one last chance to turn the ball game around. Navajo Prep senior Delta Higdon missed two free throws to tie the game followed by two missed shots in the paint.
Bachis said the missed free throws and a steal by Albuquerque junior Natalie DeBoise was a key moment in the game.
"I think that when Nat (DeBoise) stole that ball that was huge, they missed a free throw, so the combination of the two and then when they fouled Ally and she made those two, a four-point game in 16 seconds is tough for girls high school," Bachis said.
With poor field goals Albuquerque gave the Lady Eagles plenty of opportunities to take the lead but in the end its defense was what made the difference.
Bachis said her team doesn't shoot very well, which is why they rely heavily on their defense.
"That's why we have to keep everybody low, we play good defense as a whole, and we don't run-and-gun much because we don't play basketball year-round," she said. "Our goal is to keep everyone below 35 and we can maybe score 40, we play the opposite of most of the Native American teams."
Crisp said with a young team like hers, every game is a learning experience. She said her young team has learned a lot about themselves from the tournament and hopes her team can turn things around in time for district play.
"The things that hurt us down the stretch was our free throws, not being able to slow the ball down and losing our man or not talking. So, those little things are definitely easy to correct…" she said.
Albuquerque's DeBoise led the Lady Chargers with 22 points. Jasmine Coleman paced the Lady Eagles with 13 points.
Albuquerque defeated Dulce 39-32 in the first round of the tournament. They advanced to the semi-finals of the 2A-4A girls brackets where they defeated Laguna-Acoma, 43-34.
The Lady Eagles defeated Crownpoint, 68-50, at home in the first round. They then defeated district rivals Navajo Pine 54-52 in overtime, in their first meeting of the season.
Albuquerque was one of two "guest teams" in the tournament, which are teams that were invited despite having less than 20 percent enrollment in Native American students.
Bachis said she hopes her team continues to participate in the tournament.
"I believe in what he's (tournament director Shawn Secatero) trying to do with all the Native American teams, it's just a really good tournament to be in," she said. "I'm glad that they invited us, I hope they invite us back."