Navajo Prep, Shiprock earn tournament victories in busy prep basketball weekend

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

SHIPROCK — High school basketball teams from across the county participated in several regional tournaments over the weekend as the hoops season gets rolling.

Here's a wrap-up of how San Juan County teams fared in early season tournament action.

Girls Basketball

Jerry Richardson Lady Chieftain Invitational

The Navajo Prep girls basketball team remains unbeaten this season after running a clean slate throughout this weekend's tournament at Shiprock High School.

Saturday, in the Jerry Richardson Invitational's championship game, the Lady Eagles opened up with a strong flurry in the opening quarter and held strong throughout in a 48-27 win over Whitehorse High School, out of Montezuma Creek, Utah.

The Eagles led after one quarter by a score of 19-3 and were never seriously challenged, using a combination of a stifling press defense and a keen ability to score points off multiple turnovers.

Navajo Prep (4-0) advanced to the championship with wins over Newcomb and Bloomfield while Whitehorse reached the finals with wins over Navajo Pine and Shiprock to reach the finals.

Before the start of the championship game, a ceremony was held at midcourt honoring Navajo Prep's Laila Charley, who is back in the starting lineup for the Lady Eagles less than 18 months after suffering a traumatic brain injury in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

More from Navajo Prep:Basketball star Laila Charley receives 2021 Spirit of Sport Award from NMAA

The host school presented Charley and her family with signed basketballs from all the representative teams in the tournament and a raucous crowd inside the Chieftain Pit gave Charley and her family a standing ovation.

In the consolation bracket, Bloomfield defeated Shiprock 44-32 Saturday in the third place game, looking to build some momentum before returning to regular season action this week.

"We're coming together as a team, we've played five games in six days," said Bloomfield coach Tom Adair. "I like the schedule this way because it really gets them together a team and how to play tired and how to prepare them for it." 

In their first round 53-15 victory over Montezuma-Cortez, the Bobcats were led by Kylie Bigthumb, who scored 10 points and Chenoa Toledo, who scored nine in the game.

Navajo Prep will be back in action Tuesday night when they return to the Scorpion Arena to face Farmington. The Eagles opened their season last weekend at Farmington when they topped Shiprock 66-25.

Bloomfield will be home Monday night to face Pojoaque Valley while Shiprock hosts Piedra Vista on Tuesday night.

Navajo Prep's Amber Garcia (14) looks to pass the ball off to a teammate as Whitehorse defender McKeeda Sam (33) looks on during the championship game of the Jerry Richardson Invitational, Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Chieftain Pit.

Page Holiday Classic Tournament

The Kirtland Central girls basketball team wrapped up play in the Page Holiday Classic this weekend after losing 47-35 on Friday to Sunrise Mountain based out of Peoria, Arizona. The Broncos won the tournament opener on Thursday over Tuba City 43-34.

Read more:Kirtland Central basketball approaches season with high expectations

Kirtland Central knocked off the host team from Page High School on Saturday by a final score of 46-19, securing a third-place spot in the tournament and evening their record this season to 2-2.

Kirtland Central will be back in action Tuesday night on the road to face Grants.

Gallup Invitational

The Piedra Vista Panthers advanced to the championship finals with a pair of wins in the opening rounds, first getting past Americas High School Trail Blazers out of El Paso, Texas by a final of 35-23, then defeating the Gallup junior varsity team by a final of 61-21.

The Panthers lost in the championship game to the host Gallup Bengals by a final of 57-30. After falling behind 32-12 at the half, the Panthers never got close as Gallup sees their record this season to 5-1. 

Read more:Piedra Vista basketball looking for turnarounds in upcoming season

Piedra Vista, suffering their first loss on the season, will be back in action Tuesday night when they visit Shiprock.

Boys Basketball

Chieftain Invitational 

Shiprock's boys basketball team earned a hard-fought win in Saturday's championship game over Navajo Prep, winning 46-44 on a last second shot by senior Jalen Wero.

The Chieftains and Eagles were tied at 44 in the game's final seconds before Wero took a pass on the far corner, drove two steps and put up the game winner as the buzzer sounded, handing the Chieftains the dramatic win.

The Chieftains reached the championship game with victories over Navajo Pine and Whitehorse while Navajo Prep defeated Newcomb and Escalante before playing for the championship.

Shiprock (3-1) handed the Eagles their first loss on the season and will face Navajo Prep again on Saturday night.

In the consolation bracket, Aztec rebounded off a first round loss by defeating Newcomb 53-37, which allowed them to advance into the fifth place game against Navajo Pine.

More:Aztec High School basketball teams hoping for brighter future

The Tigers took advantage of their positive momentum off their second round win on Friday, coming out strong and defeating Navajo Pine by a final of 52-43 in Saturday's consolation final round.

"We showed resiliency after the tough loss against Escalante and were able to come back and finish on a positive note in the consolation bracket," said Tigers coach Ryan Dee. "We're looking to build off those wins and are going to continue to get better."

Escalante's Gilbert Martinez (2) drives down the lane surrounded by several Whitehorse defenders during the third place game of the Chieftain Invitational, Saturday, December 4, 2021 at the Chieftain Pit.

The third place game in the Chieftain Invitational went to Escalante, who defeated Whitehorse by a final of 58-47.

The Lobos jumped out to a 22-12 lead after the first quarter and were never seriously threatened during the course of the game.

The Chieftains return to the hardcourt Thursday night when they host Rehoboth Christian while Navajo Prep will be back in action Monday night when they visit Aztec.

Sandia Prep Invite

The Kirtland Central Broncos dropped their first two games of the tournament, losing in the opening round to St. Pius by a final of 63-40 before falling short in a tight 70-66 loss in the consolation bracket to Bernalillo.

In the seventh place game, the Broncos earned their second win of the season, easily outscoring Cottonwood Classical Prep by a final of 84-36. 

The Broncos will be home Tuesday night to face Farmington.

Pueblo County Tournament 

The Piedra Vista Panthers advanced to the consolation finals after winning their second game of the tournament, 55-45 over Mitchell High School out of Colorado Springs. The Panthers lost their opening round against the host Hornets 51-26.

Piedra Vista dropped the consolation finals on Saturday to Canon City by a final of 45-35.

The Panthers will be back in action Tuesday night when they host Bayfield.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.