Lack of energy burns Lady Chieftains against Class 3A opponent
FARMINGTON — The Shiprock girls basketball team suffered a letdown tonight after a lengthy run in this weekend's Hope Christian Tournament.
The Lady Chieftains (15-5) had a tough time with Class 3A's Tohatchi, which seized control of the game late in the first half and never looked back, upsetting 4A's Shiprock 70-62 at the Chieftain Pit.
"We looked winded coming off a three-day tournament," Lady Chieftains coach Larenson Henderson said. "The energy wasn't there tonight, it was hard to find."
Shiprock missed a lot of close shots around the rim, ones the team generally hits. But playing three times in four days in Albuquerque took its toll on the hosts, while the Lady Cougars (13-5) looked fresh and played with spunk.
A back-and-forth second quarter finally went Tohatchi's way toward the end of the quarter, and the visitors took an 8-point lead into halftime.
Tohatchi had its 3-point shot working tonight and was great from the free-throw line, shooting 15 for 17.
Henderson said Tohatchi junior point guard Kalian Mitchell was another reason the Lady Chieftains were foiled at home.
"She's a great baller. She can really handle the point and sees her players who are wide open," Henderson said, of Mitchell. "She has some nice layup moves at the basket."
Cheered on by its well-traveled fan base, Tohatchi went up by as many as 15 points by the midway point of the third quarter.
Shiprock battled back in both of the final quarters, cutting the Lady Cougars' lead to 3 or 4 points on a couple of occasions, but could never get over the hump.
Melanie Secody knocked down a triple with 41 seconds to go to cut the deficit down to 4, but Tohatchi was able to close the game on a 6-2 run.
"We made them turn the ball over a couple of times, but we just went back down and either threw a bad pass away or missed shots," Henderson said. "I tried to find a group of five that would get it done tonight, but it was hard because they were basically out of gas tonight. We looked tired, but I was really proud 'cause they fought hard."
Paige Dale had 14 points for Shiprock, which edged Tohatchi 78-74 on Dec. 15 on the road.
The Lady Chieftains don't play again until Jan. 24, when they will visit Navajo Prep (10-4) in a district match-up.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.