FARMINGTON — Fighting off a late rally from a district rival, the Navajo Prep Lady Eagles picked up win No. 13 of their season.
Navajo Prep defeated Navajo Pine 72-65 at home inside the Eagle's Nest Gymnasium on Wednesday night. It was the second win of the district season for the Lady Eagles against the Lady Warriors, who are the defending Class 2A state champions.
The Lady Eagles (13-5 overall, 6-1 District 1-2A) built a 39-26 lead at halftime and carried a 58-47 lead into the final quarter, but Navajo Pine (8-9, 3-4) took advantage of Prep's missed shots in the fourth quarter to get back in the game, cutting Prep's lead to just two points with less than four minutes left in the game. But a key steal and basket from Jasmine Coleman and a 3-point bucket from Michelle Lee stretched the Lady Eagles' lead back to six points with 1:24 left in the game.
"Navajo Pine came out very tough. We were able to get the stops we needed to win the game," said Prep head coach Rainy Crisp.
Lee scored only three points in the game, but her 3-point basket was greatly needed at a time when Prep missed multiple open looks.
"That was huge for her to come off the bench and hit the great 3 that we needed to push us back up," Crisp said. "That's what I love about this team. When I need somebody to step up, I have somebody on the bench that will."
The Lady Eagles were led by Coleman's 18 points. She also had six steals and six rebounds in the game. Muriel Waukazoo scored another 12 points for Prep while Matheney Wilson scored 11, eight of which came in the first quarter.
Twelve Navajo Prep players scored in the game compared to just five for Navajo Pine. The Lady Warriors were led by Krystal Nelson's 21 points. Tanya Begay scored 19 points, and Raceal Catron had 15 for Pine in the loss.
Nelson took control of the game in the second half with her rebounding, but she was taken out of the game for an extended stretch in the second quarter after picking up three personal fouls in the game's opening nine minutes.
"When we played Pine last time, we kept getting swatted (by Nelson) on our shots. We know she is their key player and we knew we had to make sure she didn't get the ball on offense and that we made sure to get her some fouls," Coleman said. "We wanted her out of the game."
Nelson was able to avoid foul trouble in the second half. Prep did its best to make her offensive opportunities difficult, sending her to the foul line 10 times, where she converted just three attempts.
"Nelson is a very tough player, and it is hard to contain her," Crisp said. "The second half, she took over, but I think we did a good job maintaining her."
The Lady Eagles were happy to record another win after losing at Tohatchi on Saturday. That loss ended the team's winning streak at nine games.
"I like how we stayed composed. We definitely need to be a lot more consistent on the defensive end, and we can't let teams get going, especially right now in district," Crisp said. "Anything can happen in this district because they are all great teams that are evenly matched. If we let any team get going on us, it will be hard to stop them."John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.