FARMINGTON — For the first time since 2013, the Navajo Prep girls basketball team opened the season with a win as the Lady Eagles soared past Dulce 55-39 tonight at the Eagles Nest.
Team captain Harlei Haceesa had 13 points and seven rebounds and junior Lemaira Romaine produced a similar stat line with 12 points and seven boards as Prep skated past class 3A's Lady Hawks.
Prep's recipe for success tonight was simple: force turnovers and get easy buckets inside.
"We're really going to rely on our defense to create easy shots for us," Prep coach Rainy Crisp said. "We did that tonight, and the one thing we have to do a lot better job of is, once we get those turnovers not to turn it right back over."
As could be expected, the Lady Eagles were rusty in the early going, barely fighting off Dulce 11-7 through an error-riddled first quarter. But Haceesa took it upon herself to get the Lady Eagles going in the second quarter by notching seven points in the frame as her team outscored the visitors 13-5 in the second.
Prep lived in the paint against Dulce, and with a deep rotation of tall post-up players, Crisp said she sees the inside game being a strength for Prep all season.
"I'm really excited for our post players," Crisp said. "We have some great post players with Lemaira and Sequoia (Wilson) and Savanna (Anderson) and Harlei, so we have a great inside game. And then at the same time, we have some great shooters as well. So it's definitely going to be hard to stop us once we put everything together."
The Lady Eagles stayed fresh by rotating all 11 of their players throughout the contest. They didn't slow down in the second half, consistently flirting with 20-point leads. Prep's largest lead of the night came at the 3:48 mark of the fourth quarter, when the Lady Eagles briefly pulled ahead by 22.
Just a week ago, Crisp, Haceesa, Martinique Larvingo and A'Isahah Chavez were in Rio Rancho representing the school's volleyball team. Considering the quick turnaround, Crisp said she was pretty satisfied with tonight's outcome.
"The girls, the ones who played volleyball, had to hurry up and switch into basketball mode," she said. "For the few days of practice we had, the girls came out and they did well. We had a lot of events going on (at the school) so our practice time got cut short, but I'm very pleased with how we played."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.