Alamo Navajo reaches SENAI finals 4 straight times
The Alamo Navajo boys’ basketball team continued a tradition at the Striking Eagle Native American Invitational.
The Cougars have made it a habit of making the finals in the small-school division at this annual tournament.
Last Friday, Alamo Navajo reached the championship game of the Bear bracket for the fourth straight time after beating rival To’Hajiilee by a 65-56 count.
In the finals the Cougars came up short to Tsé Yi’ Gai for the second consecutive year as the Diné Warriors pulled out a 50-35 win.
Since taking over the program five years ago, Alamo Navajo coach Marcus Pino Sr. said they are accustomed to playing in the finals of the SENAI tournament. What made it even sweeter was playing To’Hajiilee to get there.
“They have always been our rivals,” Pino said. “They would win and then we would win so it just went back in forth. The boys are pretty happy we got this win. We need it because we want to go back to state. We just have to keep winning.”
To grind out the semifinal win, Pino said they made some good decisions late in the game as they killed some time after taking 57-53 lead on a trey by Dravin Yazzie with 3:32 to go.
“I told the boys to be patient, and don’t overplay things,” he said. “Plus that I have a bunch of sophomores. This team is kind of young so we’re learning still. I hope we get a lot stronger at the end of the season.”
With the new realignment year, this was the last meeting between the two squads this season. To’Hajiilee moved down a class while Alamo Navajo stayed in 2A.