Third time a charm for Chinle boys basketball
By Quentin Jodie
CHINLE, Jan. 24, 2014
(Times photo – Donovan Quintero)
The Wildcats turned the tables on Friday night, downing Tuba City 65-59 in boys prep basketball action at the Wildcat Den in Chinle.
The No. 2 Wildcats have sole possession of first place in the sectional race with a 5-0 record while Tuba City drops to 4-1 in league play.
Chinle coach Charles Gover said their arch rival has a knack for winning but this time around they had an answer as three players hit double figures headed by the 19 points scored by senior Wyatt Tuni.
Junior Sooner Brady and senior Ty-Martin Francisco both chipped in 14 while Kevin Yazzie added eight before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
"I thought our kids played very well," Gover said. "We wanted at least (three) kids in double digits and another one close to it. We wanted to spread it around so that we're not a one-dimensional team."
In their two previous meetings, the first-year coach said his club was unable to close out the win as they surrendered a couple of double digit leads late in the game, only to have Tuba City come back and steal the win.
"They were able to knock down some shots," he said. "They have that know-how-to-win attitude."
But in Friday's highly anticipated rematch, the Wildcats made a couple more huge plays to open a tight game into a 48-34 lead midway through the third quarter.
Chinle connected on 5-of-6 shots to open the second half with Brady knocking down a couple of buckets, which prompted Tuba City coach Ryan Brown to call a timeout.
"We came out really flat and that was not how we wanted to start the second half," Brown said. "They came out with a lot of effort and they came out with a lot of energy. They wanted it more than we did."
The Tuba City coach felt that the Wildcats outplayed his club in every faucet of the game.
"They did an excellent job on rebounding," Brown said of the Chinle squad. "We didn't do the simply things such as boxing out and rotating on defense. All those things that we wanted to do, Chinle did a better job than we did."
Nonetheless, his team battled back and trimmed that 14-point deficit down to 52-45 heading into the fourth quarter with junior Christian Begody (25 points) and sophomore Devean Yazzie (nine points) combining for nine points in a 11-4 quarter-ending run.
The Warriors got it down to 54-51 on a steal from senior Alonzo Thompson (10 points) with 6:13 left in regulation.
Chinle, however, scored the 11 of the next 16 points to push its lead back to 65-56 on a two-point basket from Tuni.
"We knew that it was going to be a tough so when the momentum started to switch we tried to slow it down," Tuni said. "We didn't want to lose the lead like the last time we played them."
Tuni and his coach admitted there was a lot of hype going into this game but for the most part they handled it very well.
"I thought our guys did a good job with it," Gover said of the limelight entering the game. "We got two kids that played a lot last year who were starters – Kevin Yazzie and Wyatt Tuni.
"They have already been to one of these things before," he added. "Those other guys were looking at them to lead but unfortunately Kevin turned his ankle."
Gover went on to say that his tight group works hard every day in practice and their efforts are starting to show on the court.
"Some of them have not seen a whole lot of playing time on the court but they are busting their butts every day," he said. "They are the ones that make a difference in what we do. They force the other kids to play harder."
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