Winslow girls dispose top-ranked Scouts

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

FORT DEFIANCE, January 17, 2013

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(Special to the Times – Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Winslow Lady Bulldogs Shandiin Armao (40) and Window Rock Lady Scouts Caleigh Curley (23) both reach for the ball Tuesday night in Fort Defiance. Winslow defeated Window Rock, 50-38.

SECOND FROM TOP: Window Rock's Skye Day (13) gets around Winslow's Laylane Benslow Tuesday night. Winslow defeated the Lady Scouts, 50-38.

T he balance of power in Division III girls' basketball shifted on Tuesday night.

In a match-up between the top two teams in the state, the No. 2 Winslow Lady Bulldogs grinded out a tough ball game by closing out the fourth quarter on a 19-6 run to upend top ranked Window Rock, 50-38.

"I have to give credit to my kids," Winslow coach Jerron Jordan said. "They stuck with it because this game went back and forth. There were several lead changes, but we got some defensive stops."

Those stops came in the second half as Winslow broke a 23-all stalemate at the half and outscored the Scouts 27 to 15.

The first defensive stop came right after the break as the Bulldogs held Window Rock in check for the first seven minutes of the third quarter.

Then in a four-minute span in the next quarter, Winslow put up another roadblock and erased a 32-31 deficit and turned it into a 45-34 lead with two minutes to go.

"I thought we played three good quarters according to our game plan," Window Rock head coach Charles Chong said. "I thought Arianne (Sheka) and Aspen (Sheperd) did a great job tonight. They plugged that middle up so that Winslow couldn't get their inside game going.

"They had some nice blocks, but the thing about playing Winslow is – you can't go on a pause," Chong added. "When you hit that pause button because you're going to swallow 10 points and that was exactly what happened."

Chong said they were very fortunate to get back into the game after that first pause, but when the second one happened "it stuck."

"Winslow is an excellent team and they are very discipline," he said. "In the first half we disrupted some things they wanted to do, but I told the girls this is going to come down to playing four good quarters.

"You just can't let up, especially against a team like Winslow," he added.

During those stops, senior guard Mattea Begay hit three treys, including the dagger with 2:11 to go that earned the Bulldogs a 45-34 lead.

"Our offense pretty much comes from our defense," Begaii said. "We just had to close them out on defense."

On the offensive end, Begaii said they made Window Rock work by swinging the ball around the perimeter until they found an open look.

The Bulldogs also got big contributions from junior guard Marcella Joe and sophomore post Shandiin Armao as they combined for 25 points with Joe scoring 13.

"This was a really big game," Joe said. "We knew coming in here we had to stay humble. We were nervous, but we knew we had to get the job done."

Some of those early nerves showed in the first half in the form of fouls.

The Bulldogs were forced to go into their bench with Joe and Halle Hayes saddled with three fouls each.

"I like to compliment Tannon Tom and Kaelyn Bitsoi for stepping up," Jordan said of his two players off the bench. "They did a real good job, but my veterans did a good job of carrying the load."

Window Rock was also bothered with fouls as Sheka sat on the bench for most of the third quarter. During that time it seemed the Scouts were out of sync.

"Our subs are not used to this atmosphere, so they were a little hesitant," Chong said. "And you know when we held our breath things got out of hand and Winslow made us pay. They took that lead and we we're chasing them after that."

Chong said it was nice to see Winslow at this time of the season since this served as test for what's to come.

"This was a good barometer for us," he said. "It kind of shows us what our competition is going to be like."

The Scouts were led by Naomi Klah as the junior guard finished with 13 points, which included three treys.

Sheperd and Sheka both finished with 8 points apiece.

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