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SHIPROCK – Vernetta Begay looks to bring Shiprock’s girls basketball program back to statewide prominence after taking the reins as the next Lady Chieftains coach.

Begay, who was Shiprock’s C-team girls basketball coach last season, replaces Elvin Keeswood, who went 10-18 with a 4A playoff appearance last year.

Begay takes command of a squad that last won a state title back in 2017.

“It’s a great honor. It’s a big job, big responsibility… You’ve got to design plays that are geared toward (your players),” said Begay, a 1989 Shiprock basketball graduate who played under former SHS coaching legend Jerry Richardson.

Begay said she wants players to be methodical with their shot selections, whether they get the green light to attack the basket or opt to pass the ball to open teammates for a kick-out 3-pointer.

Begay also said she looks to adjust defensive schemes accordingly based on certain matchups Shiprock may encounter, whether that’s man, zone or a 1-1-3 scheme.

“She knows her X’s and O’s. Defense is huge for her (schematically),” Central Consolidated School District athletic director Ben Tensay said.