Navajo Prep point guard Thomas Montanez

Now that the Eagles will place a greater emphasis on defense under new coach Matt Melvin, this can be Montanez’s chance to shine in fast-break situations.

Melvin wants Prep to incorporate even more full-court pressure and half-court traps.

Anchoring the top of the key, Montanez can swipe away the ball and take off down to the other end.

Montanez can do damage attacking the basket point-blank, and he can be even more dangerous getting easy transition buckets.

Newcomb shooting guard Deondre Begay

Begay made the game-winning finger roll layup with 1.8 seconds left in last year’s 2A state semifinals against Mesilla Valley Christian.

Although the Skyhawks fell short their first-ever state finals appearance, Begay, who scored 20 points against Mesilla Valley, will be back in the starting lineup.

Begay is among three key returners on the scoring end.

Begay can fly up and down the floor in transition, and he’s also a solid 3-point shooter.

More importantly, he proved he can deliver in the tougher games such as the 2A semis.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.