Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Chinle's Stacey Begay is Lady 'Cats 'to go' player

January 11, 2019 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

Chinle's Stacey Begay is Lady 'Cats 'go to' player.

Begay is one of the state's most versatile basketball players. Begay pulls down defensive rebounds, begins a fastbreak by throwing an outlet pass. Down the court the team goes, outhustling opponents for a score. Begay is just effective on the offensive side. Begay pulls down a rebound and scores on a putback or finds a teammate on the wing for a shot from the perimeter or behind the three-point arc.

Many times she drives to the basket from the perimeter or behind the three-point arc. Begay is strong and durable to take opponents to the hoop inside the paint.

Begay works hard to get better. Begay encourages teammates during practice and in ball games. Begay's been there, playing against quality opponents during the regular season, post season and during summer basketball. Begay knows what it takes to be a winner.

Begay, the Lady Wildcats' 5-foot-10 senior post, was called upon to handle the ball and make things happen in a critical situation earlier this sesson against the Holbrook Lady Roadrunners.

Begay canned a pair of charity tosses with three seconds remaining in the game ti secure a freedom game victory before a large crowd in the Wildcat Den at Chinle.

Holbrook took the lead, 57-56, after hitting a three-pointer. Begay got the ball with 16 seconds remaining in the game. Begay drove down near the basket and was fouled with three seconds remaining in the game. Begay connected with both free throws.

Chinle head coach Francine McCurtain drew up a play for Begay to have the ball in her hands. When the play didn't develop as planned, Begay received the ball from a teammate at the top of the three-point arc. Begay drove the length of the floor and was fouled. Begay's two free throws were the game winner.

At the free throw line, Begay shot with confidence. Begay canned both charity shots without hitting the iron. As the ball went through the hoop, it was all net.

As team leader, Begay is averaging 16.5 points per game and pulling down 7.2 rebounds per contest. Begay's highest scoring output was against the Florence Gophers, where Chinle won the championship game of the Choice Wireless Classic in the Wildcat Den. Begay led Chinle with 28 points, scoring 22 by halftime. For outstanding effort throughout the tournament, Begay was voted Most Valuable Player.

Begay said she set personal goals when practice began prior to the season opener.

"My personal goal this year would be knowing where I am at on the court, defense-wise, talking a lot more with my teammates and helping them out on offense and defense," Begay explained. "When we transition on defense, knowing where they go and seeing the ball."

Begay points out that everyone on the Lady Wildcats' varsity roster have similar goals.

"The team goal we have in our mind set is state of course," Begay stated. "We all have the gold ball in our heads, which leads us to working hard together, knowing our position, getting back on defense and talking on the court."

Begay noted that she enjoys competing with her teammates.

"I'm proud of my team," Begay said. "We make mistakes .... yeah in basketball you are going to make mistakes, but in the end, it's about who you played with and who is around you when you win or lose. My teammates is very young, but we stick together every game and correct one another because we are a team. There's no individual who is going to win against the other five playing."

Begay said as team captain it is her job to point where the players are going and who is around you to guard.

Begay turned in a solid performance throughout the Chandler Prep tournament, during the Christmas holiday.

"My performance during the tournament was good," Begay said. "It didn't really bother me playing against other schools from different places, because during the summer I played basketball down south in big tournaments against taller and quicker players. Playing in the tournament was just another tournament, playing with my team and seeing where we are against playing them."

Begay said she remembers playing against Ganado during her sophomore year at the state tournament. The winner advances to the Final Four. Chinle eliminated Ganado and the Lady Wildcats continued its season.

"Ganado gave us a game, until almost the end of the fourth quarter," Begay stated. "We were ahead by one or two points. I remember my teammates yelling and encouraging us that were on the court. My coach Pete Butler said, 'Just run the ball, do the play'. So we did a fast break, slowed it down and ran our play. After running it there was an opening for the guard to take a layup, but she end up passing the ball to me at the bottom. I put up the shot and was fouled. I made the layup and one. Everyone was screaming, jumping everywhere. I kept my composure and made the free throw. I went back to play defense."

Begay said she and her teammates were hyped. With little time remaining, the Lady Wildcats pulled off a victory.

Begay has had two years of playing top-notch basketball. Begay has earned 3A North All-Region, 3A North Player of the Year, 3A North Offensive Player of the Year and Navajo Times All-Star.

A goal of Begay is to play college basketball. Begay said colleges are looking at her. Begay said she hasn't made a choice of where she wants to continue playing college basketball.