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Lady Chieftains pick up the pace and intensity after halftime to pull away

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SHIPROCK – The toughness and physicality of the Shiprock girls basketball team was tested by Farmington on Saturday, but the Lady Chieftains passed that test to win the Jerry Richardson Memorial Tournament championship game.

In the second half, Shiprock adjusted to Farmington’s gritty game plan and pulled away late, winning 79-55 at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.

“I said, ‘I need that energy from you for two more quarters,’” Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson said after the second quarter. “I said, ‘Imagine this is the state tournament. Three days you’ve been playing in a row.’ This is one of six tournaments we’ll be playing in this year, and we gotta learn how to handle that.”

Farmington looked rattled against Shiprock’s tenacious on-the-ball defense in the opening quarter. The Lady Scorps came out of the period with only two points and trailing by 17.

But they kicked into gear after that behind Tanisha Beetso’s nine second-quarter points. Farmington outrebounded Shiprock by a wide margin in the second quarter to cut the hosts' lead to 9 by halftime.

FHS coach Danny Secrest said the tough second quarter was nice, but the miserable first quarter made it hard to come all the way back.

“I think the first quarter really put us in a big hole,” he said. “We picked up the intensity in the second quarter, but it was a long way back at that point."

The Lady Chieftains answered Henderson’s call for more energy after the break. Paige Dale and Tanisha Begay combined to score 14 points in the third quarter as Shiprock played a more physical brand of basketball to match Farmington’s intensity.

Shiprock pushed the ball persistently until the final buzzer, which made for some tired Farmington legs.

“We’re in pretty good shape right now, but I think they wore us down just a little bit,” Secrest said.

The two teams will meet again Tuesday night in Farmington. Next time, Henderson said he would like to see his team cut down on the turnovers without compromising its pace.

“We have to take care of the ball a little better and stop running up the middle so much,” he said. “We want to run, but I think there are times we need to open up, and by spreading out wide, that opens it up."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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