3A North Region basketball previews
November 15, 2018 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365
3A North Region boy's basketball previews
Every year, the 3A North Region boy's basketball is intense.
The region championship could be decided during the last game and could be decided during the final seconds of the contest.
When players lace up their basketball shoes, the players have to be focused and ready to play 32 minutes at full strength. Any team can beat another on any given night.
Last year the Chinle Wildcats, under the guidance of veteran head coach Raul Mendoza, garnered the 3A North Region title outright. The Wildcats field a strong team and will be challenged by the Page Sand Devils, Tuba City Warriors and Kayenta Monument Valley Mustangs. The Window Rock Scouts and Ganado Hornets could be spoilers.
Six returning players highlight Ganado's program.
Returning players include junior point guard Luey Chee, junior shooting guard Daunte Morgan, sophomore point guard Andre Joseph, sophomore guard Lane Uentillie, sophomore forward/wing Wacey Benward and sophomore shooting guard Colby Kee.
Six players are new to the Hornet varsity program. They are senior wing Keanu James, senior guard Adriano Wilson, junior forward/wing Rivas Ramone, junior post/center Trent Mailboy, junior post/center Nitrell Begay and junior shooting guard Damian Overturf.
Second-year head coach Norman Hubbell said Ganado will be in the mix for the region title.
"We will be competitive night in and night out," Hubbell said. "All the teams in the region are capable of being strong. The most, well-rpepared teams in our conference will be Page and Chinle. They are consistent and well coached."
Ganado struggled last year. The Hornets completed the regular season 6-13 overall and 2-8 in region play.
Hubbell said he expects the Hornets to improve during the season and work on the team aspect every day.
"It's going to take a lot of effort, determination, dedication and self discipline to help these boys get to the next stage," Hubbell stated.
Ganado implemented a challenging schedule this year. Freedom games include Winslow, Holbrook and Blue Ridge. The Hornets are participating in the Pepsi Classic in Flagstaff and Rio Rancho Christmas Tournament.
"We play in one of the toughest regions in the state," Hubbell said. "We will have our hands full."
Page Sand Devils
After completing the season 20-9 overall and second in the 3A North Region, Page Sand Devils head coach Gary Skubal expects to improve during the course of the year and earn a state playoff berth.
The Sand Devils advanced into the quarterfinals of the state tournament last year, before being eliminated.
"Our team's goals are to get better everyday," Skubal said. "We will be working towards a region championship and a state playoff berth. In order for us to earn a state tournament berth, we will need to play outstanding defense, value our teammates and execute when the game is in critical moments. If we play for each other and work hard, we should have a good season."
Skubal believes Chinle Wildcats will repeat as 3A North Region champions.
"I think as always, Chinle will be very tough," Skubal said. "They have the best returning players and are well coached. Tuba City Warriors has a great deal of talent and so does Monument Valley."
Up and down the schedule, the Sand Devils will play challenging teams during the course of the year.
"The schedule looks tough, as we are playing the best we can find," Skubal said. "Hosting our own tournament, with Valley Christian in it and two good teams out of Las Vegas, Nevada. We also have Snowflake and Winslow on the schedule, not to mention the very tough 3A North Region schedule. So it should be a real test in order to qualify for state."
Ten players return for the Sand Devils. The returning players include 3A North All-Region Second Team junior guard Danian Sloan, All-Region Second Team senior wing/post Justin Salabiye, sophomore guard Robert Smith, senior post Cheyenne Richardson, junior guard Gabe Gomez, senior post/wing Brandon James, senior guard Dillon Neztsosie, sophomore post/wing Jonah Holiday, junior wing Jordan Varner and senior post Camerson Billie.
First-year players in the program are sophomore wing Trent Holiday, junior wing Benjamin Alvarez, freshman guard Maurice Smith and post Ethan Young.
Last year Chinle Wildcats captured the 3A North Region title, earned a state tournament berth and advanced to the Final Four before being eliminated.
Chinle completed its season 26-9 and 9-1 in region play.
Chinle head coach Raul Mendoza the Wildcats' expectations are high.
"We expect to be one of the top teams in our region and make it back to the Final Four of the state tournament," Mendoza said. "This will depend on how well we mesh as a team and how well we learn to play team defense. We feel that we have talent to be a great defensive team."
Mendoza said he hopes the Wildcats will play well enough during the course of the season, in the regional tournament, earn a state tournament and advance deep in the state tournament.
"We believe that we have to play to our potential as a team to have a chance to go deep into the state tournament," Mendoza explained. "In our region, Page will be tough. Other teams will be considered are Winslow and Blue Ridge in the East. Valley Christian will always be considered as one of the teams to beat in the state tournament."
Mendoza said the Wildcats are expected to contend for the North Region title.
"As far as summer basketball, the key players that we wanted to participate in the summer program didn't play," Mendoza said. "Cooper Burbank was out all summer, due to an injury. Angelo Lewis chose not to participate in the summer. We worked mostly with incoming sophomores and incoming freshmen. I feel that it will hinder us in the early part of the season. The lack of commitment in summer has been a problem in the past years that has allowed us to get a slow start each of the past two seasons."
Mendoza said has a great schedule of Freedom games, tournaments and region contests.
"I believe that we ha."ve a great schedule, as we picked the 3A defending State Champion Winslow as of the Freedom games," Mendoza said. "We also added Wingate (New Mexico) to our schedule. In our tournament, we have added Blue Ridge, who was the runner-up in the state tournament last year. We are also going to the White Mountain Classic in late December, which is always one of the better tournaments in the state."
The Wildcats return five players. Returning are 3A North Region Offensive Player of the Year and Second Team All-State junior guard Cooper Burbank, 3A North Region Co-Player of the Year and First Team All-State senior power forward Angelo Lewis, junior point guard Curtis Begay, sophomore small forward Payton Wagner and sophomore forward Cael Denetdeel.
First-year varsity players are senior 3-guard Jason John, senior forward Bryant Yeahquo, senior point guard Alec Lewis, junior center Nicholas Ryan, junior 3-guard Clinton Mark, junior 3-guard Darren Woody, sophomore shooting guard Colin Yazzie, sophomore forward Cory Nakai and freshman point guard Kylen Yazzie.