Newcomb boys excel against solid competition

Skyhawks eye state title after racing to 10-1 start

Matt Hollinshead,
Newcomb's Deion Johnhat drives to the basket for a fast-break layup against Shiprock during Thursday's game at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.
  • Class 2A Newcomb has defeated 3A's Navajo Prep and Laguna Acoma, and 4A's Shiprock.
  • Newcomb won its first-ever state playoff game last season, but was eliminated in the state quarterfinals.
  • The Skyhawks returned most of their core group from last season's squad.

SHIPROCK — The Newcomb boys basketball team is flying high this season, thrashing foes in higher classifications in the process.

The Skyhawks are not just generating wins against the likes of 3A’s Navajo Prep, and Laguna Acoma and 4A’s Shiprock. They’re giving those teams a tail whipping, often by margins of more than 15 points.

As they eye this year’s 2A state title, matchups like that give Newcomb players an even clearer idea of what it will take to bring home a state title.

“It’s like a good practice to us (for) what we’re going to see in the state tournament: (opponents’) size, people who can shoot from deep, the ball movement. We can adjust to any kind of offense,” Skyhawks shooting guard Deondre Begay said. “Playing teams like that, it helps us along the future in the state playoffs.”

Newcomb (10-1) is all in this season, making that extra push to be the best.

“They’re talking with each other. It makes the game easier for them. They like to share the basketball, drive and kick,” coach Dominique Richardson said. “They know there hasn’t been a lot of rich basketball tradition, so that’s what they’re trying to change.”

The Skyhawks are pressing and trapping shooters all over the court, setting up plenty of easy scoring chances on the fast break and from the perimeter. The attacks and counterattacks keep coming and coming, often leaving opponents gassed by halftime.

“It’s been real great. Everybody’s doing their job. We’re getting steals, getting up and down the court. I don’t think (anybody) can stay with us down the court,” point guard Kelkenny Watchman said.

From start to end, Newcomb is relentless.

“We just get great ball movement, penetrate, kick out for (an) open 3. Or if you have a mismatch, we usually take the opportunity to go the basket,” Begay said. “We have a good rotation at all five positions. We can count on anybody to get a basket, make free throws and make good plays for us.”

Newcomb won its first-ever state playoff game last season, but was eliminated in the state quarterfinals. That didn’t sit well with the Skyhawks, who are built to contend now.

With virtually the whole group back from last year, the window is wide open for Newcomb to win it all.

“It’s not going to be easy, but this team is capable of doing it,” Richardson said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.