Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Holbrook, Monument Valley hope for better season

November 20, 2018 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

The Holbrook Roadrunners and Kayenta Monument Valley Mustangs hope to turn the tables this year and be competitive in boy's basketball in their respective regions.

Holbrook and Kayenta Monument Valley play in two of the state's toughest regions. The Roadrunners are members of the 3A East Region, while the Mustangs are in the 3A North Region.

Holbrook Roadrunners

Holbrook head coach Delmar Johnson has 12 players on this year's varsity.

Roadrunner players on the varsity include 3A East All-Region Second Team junior guard Eric Baldonado, junior guard Kobi Koerperich, senior forward Josiah Freddie, senior forward Tynen Thomas, senior forward Blayne Nelson and senior guard Jeff Jones Jr.

Also, sophomore guard Anthony Nelson, sophomore guard Damien Clark, senior forward Oscar Hernandez III, senior forward Hadley Wilson, sophomore post Ethan Bahe and sophomore guard Zeek Begaii.

"My expectations for the season is to be the best team in the East Region, with four returning starters from last season," Johnson said. "The goal every season is to make the state tournament as a top 8 seed or higher.

Holbrook completed the season 8-16 last year and finished fourth place in the East Region.

"We need to be a more disciplined team on offense and defense," Johnson said. "To make the state tournament, we will need to be a better team on the road and more consistent throughout the whole season."

Holbrook will play seven freedom games this year. The Roadrunners face Chinle twice, Window Rock twice, Fountain Hills, Ganado and Valley Sanders.

"Blue Ridge, Snowflake and 3A defending state champion Winslow Bulldogs will be strong teams in the 3A East Region this year," Johnson said. "I feel like we will be a better team than last season, with our team having four starters back this season. Show Low and Payson had some young guys getting some experience last season, so they should be better teams also."

Kayenta Monument Valley Mustangs

First-year Kayenta Monument Valley boy's basketball head coach Jacob Nelson welcomed five returning players from last year's squad.

The returning players are junior Simeon Thinn, senior Jeremiah Sherlock, senior Taj Laughter, senior Morias Holiday and senior Chance Littleben.

Joining the five returning players are first-year varsity team members freshman Andrew Sheppard, sophomore Tyler Jacobs, sophomore Dahntay Dugi, sophomore Hunter Nez, sophomore Latrell Maloney, senior Shane Chee, senior Milekie Dunbar, senior Merwyn Willie and senior Jackson Bia.

Nelson said the Mustangs looks to compete in a very talented 3A North Region this year.

"We would like to be able to finish first in our region this year," Nelson said. "We would need to beat out a tough Page team and a strong Chinle team. Monument Valley didn't make it to state last year, so we are hoping to make it to state this year. I think a lot of teams will be overlooking us this year. We are hoping to surprise them with the work that we have been putting in."

Nelson said the Mustangs must take care of business everyday on the court and off the court.

"We need to focus on each game one at a time," Nelson explained. "Hopefully, we can be more successful than we were last year. I think it is key for us to place one or two in our region. Then win at least one of our freedom games against Snowflake, Winslow and Flagstaff to help us get enough power points."

The Mustangs finished 3-15 overall and 2-8 in 3A North Region play last year.

Nelson said the Mustangs finished toward the bottom of the region last year. Nelson said the Mustangs struggled to win a lot of close games. He said the Mustangs were in all of the games last year. He added that the athletes worked real hard to try to finish, but just weren't that successful at it.

"We start the season out with games against some tough smaller schools and New Mexico schools," Nelson stated. "We then have region games and our freedom games against Winslow, Flagstaff and Snowflake will be important to us if we are going to make it to state this year. We play in the Navajo Generating Station Tournament and in the Central Arizona Tournament in Casa Grande, which should give us a look at some tough competition."

Nelson said the Mustangs did not see teams in the 3A North Region this past summer.

"Page and Chinle return a lot from their successful teams last year," Nelson noted. "Ganado has a strong young team. Tuba City and Window Rock are always tough as well. We will be in the mix this year if we work hard and hopefully we can surprise some teams that may under rate us."