Window Rock knocks off MV for tourney title

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

CHINLE, January 3, 2013

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(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Window Rock Lady Scouts Shaniya Bitsoi (33) shoots over Monument Valley's Ashley Holiday (12) Saturday night in Chinle. Window Rock won, 57-44.

SECOND FROM TOP: Monument Valley's Ashley Holiday looks to her left as she attempts to get away from defending Lady Scouts Carleigh Curley (23) Saturday in Chinle.

F or someone who rode the bench for much of the contest on Saturday night, Aspen Shepherd showed no signs of rust.

The Window Rock senior took a seat on the bench after she picked up her third foul in the first few minutes of the championship game on Saturday night during Chinle's Tournament of Champions.

But when she returned with 5:51 left in the third quarter, Shepherd padded her numbers by scoring 15 of Window Rock's final 31 points as the Scouts defeated Monument Valley, 57-44.

"That was probably the longest time I sat out," Shepherd said, while adding that it gave her time to study the game.

"It gave me an idea of what to do," she said.

She did significant damage inside by posting up and when the defense collapsed on her she gave plenty of open looks for the Window Rock perimeter players to shoot the threes.

"I have to give a lot of credit to our guards," she said. "They really stepped it up. I have a lot of confidence in them to shoot those shots."

With that Naomi Klah and Makayla Lee torched the Mustangs with four treys in the second half.

"I just wanted to knock them down for my team," Klah said, who was named the tournament's most valuable player.

The junior guard hit two from long range and finished the game with 14 points while Lee had 16 points with four treys.

"We wanted to make our offense work, but our main focus was to play defense," Window Rock assistant coach Amelia Holtsoi said. "We fell apart a couple of times, but for the most part I think we did a good job of playing defense."

As for Shepherd's presence, Window Rock assistant coach Jet Feliciano said that made a difference as the Scouts managed to divert the game into their favor.

"We were forcing things, but we finally slowed it down and became more patient on offense," he said. "If the post didn't work, we kicked it out. It's a good thing those three-pointers went in."

While those treys did help, the Scouts still had their work cut out for them as Monument Valley pulled within 46-43 on a basket by Deezhi Thinn with four minutes left in the game.

But after that they missed six shots while Shepherd went to work by scoring eight of the Scout's final 11 points.

"Nothing would fall for us, but I am pretty happy with their performance" Monument Valley coach Sophia Parrish said. "We would like to have won, but I told the girls it's all about progress and not perfection.

"That is what I am looking for," she added. "We want to peak late in the season so I am happy with what we are doing."

As for the closing minutes, Parrish felt that they beat themselves mentally as they were forcing things, but happy that this game did not count towards the state's power points.

"This a great setup for the season," she said. "We haven't played Window Rock at all and this gives an idea of what to expect."

Thinn led the Mustangs with 14 points.

Third place

Consider this a learning experience for the Holbrook Roadrunners.

After trailing by as much as 11 points, the Roadrunners saw its comeback bid fall a tad short as Tuba City posted a 54-52 count for the third-place trophy.

"We missed 13 free throws and they missed two," Holbrook coach Greg Perkins said. "We missed a lot of scoring opportunities on lay-ups and that was the difference.

Perkins said his girls fought hard to get back into the game, but with 36 seconds left they fouled Tuba City's Shiniya Henry on a three-point attempt while leading 52-49.

And after Henry tied the game, Tate Tsinigine was fouled in the backcourt and hit both free throws for the win.

"We gave them a stupid foul there to give them a 1-and-1," Perkins said.

As a team, the Warriors hit 13-of-15 free throws.

"We work on it and realistically of all the teams that I've coached this is the best free throw shooting team," Tuba City coach Kim Williams said. "We work on them when we are tired in practice and it's paid off."

The Warriors had four players in double figures with Henry leading the way with 13 points. Tsinigine finished with 12 while Mariah Begay and Shauntee Chee added ten points apiece.

Kaynasa Curley led the Roadrunners with 13 points while Jessica Paz helped out with ten.

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