Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Kayenta Monument Valley gains invaluable experience in tournament

December 3, 2018 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

Competing in the 2018 Girls Lake Powell Holiday Classic in Page was a learning experience for the Kayenta Monument Valley Lady Mustangs.

The Lady Mustangs played three games, finishing with one win and two losses against quality teams competing in the eight-team, three-day tournament.

Bishop Gorman, an elite team from Las Vegas, Nevada captured the tournament championship. Host Page Lady Sand Devils finished as runners-up. Kirtland Central (New Mexico) Lady Broncos claimed third place. The Lady Mustangs finished fourth place. The Lady Mustangs dropped a 53-39 decision to the Kirtland Central for third place.

Tuba City Lady Warriors garnered consolation/fifth place. Scottsdale Saguaro finished sixth place. Tohatchi (New Mexico) Lady Cougars claimed seventh place. Phoenix Maryvale copped eighth place.

Kayenta Monument Valley head coach Jason Franklin said the Lady Mustangs played hard and competed with the top programs they played.

In the first round of the tournament, Kayenta Monument Valley outlasted Tohatchi, 60-49.

The lead see-sawed throughout the first quarter, before Tohatchi held a 19-18 lead. The Lady Mustangs battled back during the second quarter, taking a 31-28 lead at halftime.

The Lady Cougars cut the Lady Mustangs' lead to 40-38 at the end of the third period. The Lady Mustangs shot the ball well in the fourth quarter, canning 20 points. Tohatchi netted 11 points in the final quarter.

Senior Jazlyn Lane and sophomore Adriana Sheppard both tallied 15 points for the Lady Mustangs. Senior Tayla Nez added 11 points for the Lady Mustangs.

Gabrielle Thomas poured in 14 points for Tohatchi. Krystal Benally scored nine points and Cameron Tsosie added eight points for the Lady Cougars.

"Tohatchi had a quick, defensively aggressive team, with several good shooters," said Lady Mustangs head coach Jason Franklin. "Early in the game, they forced us into several turnovers, which made it difficult for us to get into a rhythm. Tohatchi made our defense work. They often caught us out of rotation. They were able to knock down open shots. They made seven threes in the game."

Franklin said he made adjustments and the Lady Mustangs got into rhythm defensively, late in the third quarter.

"The adjustments helped us go to a 14-2 run to pull away," Franklin said. "We lost a key post player, Helen Salt, at the end of the third quarter with a shoulder and sternum injury. We didn't have her active for the remainder of the tournament. She'll be out for at least a week moving forward."

In a hard fought ball game, Kayenta Monument Valley lost to tournament host Page Lady Sand Devils, 40-33, in the semifinals.

Page held a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Sand Devils took a 23-13 lead at halftime.

Page continued its lead, taking a 31-23 lead at the end of the third quarter. The Lady Mustangs tallied 10 points to Page's nine points in the fourth quarter.

Tayla Nez netted 15 points and Adriana Sheppard added six points for the Lady Mustangs.

Camryn Nockideneh tallied 12 points and Myka Taliman canned nine points for Page.

Franklin said the Lady Mustangs had a slow start. "We had a dificulty talking and rotating on defense," Franklin said. We really didn't run an offense for the first half and part of the third quarter. Page's defensive pressur on our ball handlers made it difficult for our girls to get into our offense, We also had a difficult shooting night .... making only one three-pointer and going 10 for 20 from the free throw line."

Franklin said the Lady Mustangs cut Page's 16 point lead to two points with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

"After a missed shot and a Page defensive rebound, the Lady Sand Devils brought the ball out to half court and began a stall game for the final 3:30 of the game," Franklin explained. "The final six points were scored on free throws, when we had to foul in order to stop the clock."

Franklin said the Lady Mustangs showed great defensive effort to come back, but waited too long to really start playing.

"You simply cannot give a team of the caliber of Page a big lead and still expect to win," Franklin remarked. "It was a great learning experience for us. A little bit about who we are and the best ways for us to match up against Page and similarly equipped opponents."

The Kirtland Central Lady Broncos turned in a solid performance en route to a 53-39 victory over Kayenta Monument Valley for third place.

Kirtland Central raced out to a 17-8 first quarter lead. The Lady Broncos took a 34-16 lead at halftime.

The tempo of the game slowed down in the third quarter. The Lady Mustangs outscored the Lady Broncos, 6-4. Kirtland Central led, 38-22. The Lady Mustangs nailed 17 points to the Lady Broncos' 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Tayla Nez poured in 18 points to lead the Lady Mustangs offensively.

Melanie Yazzie topped Kirtland Central with 12 points. Avery Begay added 10 points and Peanut Dryder scored eight points for the Lady Broncos.

"Again we started slowly," said Franklin. "We had 20 turnovers and seven missed layups in the first half," Franklin stated. 'The majority of the turnovers were unforced. Kirtland Central had an extremely quick team, who puts a ton of backcourt pressure on the ball handlers. They move the ball well on offense to open up their large collection of three point shooters. Kirtland Central made six three-point shots in the first half. They made a total of seven for the game."

Franklin pointed out that the Lady Mustangs was 7 of 14 from the free throw line and finished the gsme with 27 turnovers, which is by far a season high.

"The slow stsrt can be partially attributed to the emotional led down from losing the rivalry game, the night before," Franklin said. "Most of the credit goes to Kirtland Central and their tough defensive pressure. The entire weekend, we had a hard time making wide open shots. When you turn the ball ocer as much as we did, combined with the inability to make open shots, it makes it difficult to beat good teams. We again made a run in the second half, cutting Kirtland Central's 21 point lead down to eight. We waited too long to hit our stride and ran out of time to make a close game of it. It was, however, a good preview for our game at Kirtland Central on December 18."