All season, the Shiprock Lady Chieftains dominated District 1-3A. The district tournament title game was no exception.
The Lady Chiefs controlled the game from the opening tip to defeat Thoreau 64-44 and capture first place in the district tournament on Friday night in the Chieftain Pit.
"It's a big relief," said Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson. "We wanted to win every tournament we entered. Today, we didn't play very well, but we're clicking. The district tournament is preparation for state, and some of the girls got too excited. We didn't shoot the ball well. We didn't pass the ball well, but I think they'll adjust and, when we get to state, then everything will go a lot better."
Shiprock (22-3) was in a battle for the first four minutes, but after taking an 8-7 lead, the Lady Chiefs remained ahead for the rest of the contest.
Thoreau (18-9) cut Shiprock's advantage to 41-32 late in the third quarter but the Lady Chiefs responded with a 10-0 run over the final two minutes to put the game out of reach.
Taylor Henderson led Shiprock with a game-high 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field and 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.
"We just have to keep taking each game step-by-step," said the Shiprock junior, who was named the District 1-3A Co-MVP.
Talor Henderson was a member of the state championship team at Kirtland Central last season and is hopeful that experience will guide Shiprock to the 3A title.
"I really want to win another state championship, and I want to do it with these guys," Taylor Henderson said. "We're motivated to reach that goal."
Ashley John added 10 points for the Lady Chieftains in the victory.
John and Taylor Henderson along with Courtney Steele and Shania Harry were named to the District 1-3A first team.
Arantxa Curley, Geovonia Harry and Chiashonya Nelson received District 1-3A second team honors for the Lady Chiefs.
Alyssa Yazzie and Amber Begay led Thoreau with 13 points apiece in the loss.
Shiprock's full-court press defense gave the Lady Hawks problems all game, forcing 49 Thoreau turnovers.
The Lady Chiefs will prepare for the state tournament for the next week, and Larenson Henderson thinks his team will be awarded the No. 1 seed on Sunday.
"I hope we get seeded first," said Henderson, who was named the District 1-3A Coach of the Year. "Our scores are deceiving because I could have ran them up more, but I let all my players play. I feel like we can be up there."
Joshua Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.