Bears grind out win over Navajo Prep
FORT WINGATE, N.M.
Hosting Navajo Prep in its second District 1-3A game, the Wingate boys’ basketball team followed the game plan to near perfection.
The Bears (10-7, 2-0 in District 1-3A) kept the flow of the game at a pedestrian pace on Wednesday night as they came away with a 61-51 win.
“The game plan was to grind it out and cover their shooters,” Wingate coach Al Martinez said. “We held onto the ball and we made them play defense and I think it frustrated them.”
Martinez said anytime you play a team that scores a lot of points and shoots a lot of threes, they want to get up and down the floor.
“Playing that kind of game gets you opportunities and tonight we limited their opportunities,” he said. “I thought our half-court man defense was as good as we played all year.
“We were a little bit stronger than them on the boards so everything we did worked in our favor,” he said.
The Bears started the contest strong by taking an 8-3 lead after a basket by senior Parrish Miller with just over five minutes left. Navajo Prep (12-5, 1-1 in District 1-3A) finally got going when junior Ian Whitehorse got two of his baskets to drop that brought the No. 2 ranked team to an 11-7 score.
Wingate got off to another good start in the second as they opened up a 17-9 cushion behind a putback from senior guard Emerson Begay.
The Eagles, however, put together an impressive 11-2 run that took 1:42 to complete. Junior Treston Yazzie and senior Cody Manning combined for three treys with Yazzie’s second trifecta earning the visitors a 20-19 lead with 5:11 to go before the half.
Miller dropped a pair of buckets and eventually the Bears regained the momentum and led 29-24 at halftime.
Navajo Prep coach Rick Hoerner gave credit to Wingate but he’s still perplexed on why they have struggled on the road.
“We’re 0-4 in other people’s gym and we have a tough time getting started,” he said. “I don’t know what it is. Tonight I think a lot of it was my fault. I’ve watched Wingate twice and they sat in that 3-2 zone. We didn’t do a good job of adjusting.”
The second half didn’t get any better for the Hoerner’s team as Wingate scored the first six points in the third quarter as they opened up a 35-24 lead on a trey by senior Trevor Morgan and an old-fashion three-point play from Begay.
The Bears stretched that margin to 45-31 when Taylor Morgan connected with a trey at the 5:11 mark.
Begay said the emphasis coming out of the break was to stop Navajo Prep’s momentum.
“They went on a run late in the first half so we wanted to come out strong and don’t let them have the quarter,” he said. “If we gave those shooters looks they were going to hit them.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, Navajo Prep did cut Wingate’s lead down to 47-40 on a trey by senior Marley Deschiney but that was a close as they would get.
Wingate ran off eight of the next 14 points with Begay getting to the foul line as he made 5-of-6 free throws while Miller added three points for a 55-44 cushion.
Miller led the Bears with 16 points while Begay finished with 14 points. Trevor Morgan added 12.
“We’ve been in slump all year but we made our shots tonight,” Martinez said. “I am real proud of the effort. My senior guards – Emerson Begay, Trevor Morgan and Myles Whitehair – did what they needed to do. Parrish Miller had some good baskets inside and we needed that.
“They pressed us at the end and they tried to trap us,” he added. “Yeah, we made some turnovers but I thought we were able to handle our business.”
Navajo Prep was led by Trejan Clichee as he finished with 12 while Yazzie chipped in 10 and Whitehorse helped out with nine.
As a team, Navajo Prep connected on five treys, which opened up the interior but Hoerner said they had a hard time finishing. In addition, he said they got pounded on the glass and that hasn’t happened to his team in quite some time.
“I think we charted one offensive rebound by halftime,” he said. “When you miss that much going to the basket those other guys have to pick up the offensive rebound and put it back. It just wasn’t happening tonight.”
On Friday both teams will be in action with Navajo Prep hosting Tohatchi while Wingate is entertaining Crownpoint.
“They played a lot of tough teams and they really handed it to Thoreau the other night,” Hoerner said of Tohatchi. “District season is really tough. You always have to be at your best and tonight we weren’t. I thought we played hard but we didn’t play exceptionally well.”