Winslow reserve keys Bulldogs to victory in sectional tournament
(Times photo - Donovan Quintero)
By Quentin Jodie
BURNSIDE JUNCTION, Ariz., Feb. 13, 2014
(Times photos - Donovan Quintero)
With a defender practically breathing over him, the Winslow reserve guard hit a couple of huge buckets as the Bulldogs staved off a furious rally from Alchesay, winning 62-59 at the Ganado Pavilion on Wednesday night.
"He had a calming effect for us," Winslow coach Ricky Greer said of Begay. "When you look at him, he's not the tallest of the guys and he doesn't looks like he's the fastest player out there but he really understands how to use his body, better than anybody on the team."
Greer said it's so difficult to take the ball away from him and down the stretch the Winslow senior did a good job of penetrating to the basket and scoring all of his seven points in that three-minute span.
"I wasn't thinking about scoring," Begay said. "I just wanted to take care of the ball and help keep my teammates calm. I just wanted to run the offense and be a team player out there."
That outburst from Begay helped changed Winslow's season as they advanced into the championship game of the Section IV tournament. The Bulldogs will play No. 4 seed Show Low on Saturday night as the Cougars bested top-seeded Snowflake, 55-49, at Show Low High.
The winner of that game will automatically earned one of the top six seeds in the Arizona Division III state basketball tournament.
"That is what we are shooting for," Greer said. "We want to be one of the top six seeds for the tournament."
As for playing Show Low, Greer said nothing is guaranteed. Much like Wednesday's game as Alchesay had a chance to send this game into overtime with six seconds left in regulation.
While trailing, 62-59, the Falcons got the ball underneath their basket on a dead possession and when play resumed junior guard Rashaan Stover got a clean look at basket.
His attempt, however, bounced off the rim as Winslow held on for the win.
"We had a wide open look there at the end, it was a good look but we did not capitalize on it," Alchesay coach Kyle Goklish said. "Sometimes they fall and it look good from where we were at, but that last shot did not fall."
The Falcons did not lead once in this game as Winslow seized a 10-7 edge after the first quarter and 26-23 at the break.
The Bulldogs then forced the issue by scoring on six of their last nine possessions in the third with senior Stevin Nelson putting up a pair of treys with his last one earning the designated home team a 44-31 cushion with less than a minute left until the fourth.
The Bulldogs systematically broke down Alchesay's zone defense by dribble-drive penetration, which freed up Nelson. For the night, the senior guard hit four treys and finished the game 14 points while Trelonnie Sanders led the team with 15 and Keenan Keams helped out with 13.
"We put our shooters out on the perimeter," Greer said. "And Stevin was able to hit some big threes for us to extend that lead but unfortunately we did not hang on to it and we made it very interesting in the end."
The Falcons went on a 13-2 run with senior post Arnold Walker putting in six of his game-best 18 points. With 4:09 left, Alchesay pulled within 46-44 when Stover (14 points) scored on his own miss.
But along came Begay. The Winslow senior hit a pair of layups, which stretched out their lead out 53-47 with 2:03 remaining in the game.
A minute later, Begay came up with a pump fake as they opened up a 60-53 cushion before Alchesay hit back-to-back treys and cut it down to 61-59 with 18 ticks left in the game.
"They got up by as many as 13 points," Goklish said of Winslow. "We cut it down to two. We had three, four possessions where we could have tied it or we would have went ahead but we missed a couple or we had a couple of turnovers in there."
Nonetheless, the Alchesay coach credited his players for not hanging their heads.
"They played hard and they fought all the way through," Goklish said. "They gave themselves a chance. Again our bench stepped up and they played good defense in the second half."
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