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Shiprock surges back for first win of 2016

Chieftains fight back in the second half, put Red Mesa, Ariz., away in overtime 60-58

Jake Newby, and Karl Schneider
Farmington Daily Times
  • Aztec picked up a 57-49 win over Window Rock in its season opener.
  • Navajo Prep couldn't match up with Espanola Valley's guards and fell 63-45 in Santa Fe.
  • Northwest was out sized by Durango, leading to a 64-26 loss.

SHIPROCK — A concerted effort to score inside helped the Shiprock boys basketball team stave off its third straight loss to open the regular season.

Shiprock's Landon Henderson goes up for a basket in overtime against Red Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday in Shiprock at the Chieftain Pit.

The Chieftains erased a 13-point third-quarter deficit when coach Chester Atcitty's message to work the ball down low on offense finally got through to the players. Shiprock forced overtime and took care of business in the extra period to clip Red Mesa, Ariz., 60-58 tonight at the Chieftain Pit.

The win for Shiprock (1-2), which came on the first day of the team's Shiprock Chieftains Tournament, snapped an early two-game losing skid, which saw the Chiefs lose by at least 18 points in both games.

"It feels good," Atcitty said of the win. "We'll take it."

A 10-9 lead for Shiprock after the opening quarter went by the wayside when Red Mesa's Willson Simpson drained three second-quarter 3-pointers and helped his team take an 8-point lead into the half.

Shiprock made a handful of shots right out of the locker room to cut it close, but Red Mesa (1-2) forced turnovers and executed on offense to lengthen its lead to 13. The hosts were on the verge of being blown out for the third time in as many games until they stopped taking bad shots around the perimeter.

"The one thing that we don't want to do is continue to jack up the 3 and get in that run with them," Atcitty. "We had to have more ball movement, attack the middle, and that's what we did."

Shiprock's Marlyn Kaskella goes up for a shot inside against Red Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.

Junior forward Guy Naseyowma, one of the few players on Shiprock's roster with size and length, was the poster child for Shiprock's improved inside game down the stretch, scoring 5 points in OT.

"Having that positivity, that self-assurance, that confidence in releasing those shots, that's great," Atcitty said of Naseyowma. "That's great, he's stepping up."

Landon Henderson played a big role in the comeback effort, scoring 13 of his team-high 24 points in the second half.

Shiprock gets Aztec (1-0) Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Aztec 57, Window Rock, Ariz., 49

The Aztec boys basketball team showed early-season rust and jitters in its season opener against Arizona’s Window Rock, but the Tigers overcame all obstacles, beating the Scouts (0-1) 57-49 today at the Shiprock Chieftains Tournament.

The win matches Aztec’s win total from last year when the Tigers went 1-24.

Aztec's Gabe Wood makes layup around Window Rock's Adrian Destea on Thursday at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.

“This is a group that over the last six months have been nothing but optimistic, and that’s a testament to the kind of kids they are because last year was rough on them,” Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said. “They put a lot of effort in, and I think we all know we’re still a long way away from where we need to be, but the character we displayed tonight, finding a way to win, was really awesome to see.”

With the game tied at 42 with three minutes remaining, Aztec’s Gabe Wood hit a 3 from the top of the key to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Charley Morrison and Jake Feil led Aztec with 10 points each.

Durango, Colo., 64, Northwest 26

The Northwest boys basketball team was outmatched in its season opener and fell 64-26 to Durango, Colo., during the first day of the Shiprock Chieftains Tournament today at the Chieftain Pit.

The Demons (1-0) had too much size on the Falcons (0-1), outrebounding them on both ends of the court.

Northwest will continue play at the tournament Friday, challenging Whitehorse, Utah, at 3:30 p.m.

Española Valley 63, Navajo Prep 45

The Navajo Prep boys basketball team got off to a bad start this morning its way to the Braves Invitational, hosted by Santa Fe Indian School, and never got a chance to recover, falling to defending 5A state champion Española Valley 63-45.

“Things just didn’t go well from the start,” Prep coach Rick Hoerner said. “We left at 6:30 this morning and forgot our basketballs, then we took the girls’ (basketball’s) by mistake. It took us a while to get everything going.”

Prep (2-1) trailed by 7 points at halftime, but in the second half, EV (2-0) played a small lineup that the Eagles couldn’t match up against and pulled away for the win.

Anthony Pioche-Lee led Prep with 16 points, followed by Tehrall Martinez with 10.

Prep will play Native American Community Academy (0-3) at the tourney on Friday at 9:45 a.m.

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

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.