Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

3A North Region mania: Page girls, Chinle boys win 3A North Regional Tournament titles

February 10, 2019 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

In two hard fought basketball games, the Page Lady Sand Devils and Chinle Wildcats emerged as girls and boys 3A North Regional Tournament champions before over 5,000 spectators at Window Rock High School's spacious Events Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona this past Saturday night.

Among the large crowd was Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who witnessed exciting hoops action between the two schools. In fact, President Nez followed action at Monument Valley High School in Kayenta during first round action last Thursday. President Nez continued following Navajo Nation schools during semifinal play at Ganado High School's Hornet Pavilion this past Friday.

Girls Championship

Page 52, Chinle 34

Regular season 3A North Region champion Page played solid defense throughout the contest to post a 52-34 victory over Chinle for the Regional Tournament championship.

Page head coach Ryan Whitehorse praised the Lady Sand Devils' defensive effort.

"The girls turned in a great performance on defense," Whitehorse said. "We don't finish here with the Regional Tournament championship. It's great to win the Regional Tournament championship. Another season starts with the state tournament. We're playing one game at a time. We're focusing on playing next Friday (February 15). In the state tournament, it's you lose and your season is done. The girls have done a lot this year.

Whitehorse said the Lady Sand Devils were ready to play against a tough Chinle ball team.

"The girls worked hard defending the inside and outside shooting from the perimeter and from the three-point area," Whitehorse. "The girls played patiently and worked the ball offensively. It's a great win."

Page shot well during the first quarter. The Lady Sand Devils led 5-3 early. The Lady Sand Devils went on a 6-0 run, taking an 11-3 lead. Chinle outscored Page, 4-2, culminated by a basket by freshman Aisha Ashley. Page held a 13-7 lead as the first period ended.

Page rallied for a 9-0 run to begin the second quarter, for a 22-7 lead. The Lady Sand Devils netted one point during the final four minutes. Chinle could score five points. Page held a 23-12 halftime lead.

Meagan Fuller knocked down a pair of treys to early in the third quarter, lifting the Lady Sand Devils to a 29-14 lead.

Kristen Tso canned back-to-back baskets, followed by a pair of field goals by Ashley and Dee Baa Nacona brought Chinle within seven points, 29-22. A basket by Myka Taliman and a free throw by Torrance Begay gave Page a 32-22 lead.

Page's defense stymied Chinle's offense into a free throw for three minutes. The Lady Sand Devils mustered four points. The Lady Sand Devils held a 36-23 lead at the end of the third period.

Taliman and Camryn Nockindeneh combined for nine points, giving Page a 45-29 lead with four minutes remaining in the game. Ashley completed a three-point play and Stacey Begay added a basket brought the Lady Wildcats within 11 points, 45-34 with 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Taliman sisters went to work during the final two minutes of the game. Myka Taliman scored three points and younger sister, Miquedah Taliman netted a pair of free throws. Nockindeneh added a basket.

Myka Taliman lead Page with 18 points.

Leading Chinle offensively was Aisha Ashley with 15 points.

Chinle head coach Francine McCurtain said the Lady Wildcats played well in spurts.

"We need to play consistantly on both ends of the court," McCurtain said. "In the first and second quarters, we had a slow start. That hurt us. The girls battled back. The girls turned in a good effort."

Page, 23-4, has a first round bye in the state tournament, which begins this Tuesday. The Lady Sand Devils will see action this Friday in the second round.

Chinle, 16-8, will see action this Friday in the second round, after earning a first round bye.

Boys Championship

Chinle 48, Page 36

In a classic matchup between two talented and skilled players, the Chinle Wildcats pulled off a 48-36 win over the Page Sand Devils to claim the 3A North Regional Tournament title.

Page raced out to an 8-2 lead, thanks to a three pointer by Dainian Sloan and five points from Gabe Gomez. Chinle battled back to tie the game, 8-8, on a pair of free throws from Cooper Burbank and baskets by Curtis Begay and Cael Denetdeel.

Burbank canned a basket, lifting Chinle to a 10-9 lead with 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Brandon James hit a free throw to tie the game. Colin Yazzie knocked down a three point buzzer beater, giving Chinle a 13-10 lead as the first period expired.

Chinle outscored Page, 6-0, during the opening three minutes of the second quarter, for a 19-10 lead. Sloan hit a basket and Ben Alvarez added a three pointer to cut Chinle's lead to four points, 19-15. The tempo of the game slowed down.

During the final two minutes of the second quarter, Chinle and Page both managed four points for a 23-29 Wildcat lead, as the period concluded.

Chinle, led by Cooper Burbank's six points and Payton Wagner's basket increased its lead to 31-23 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Justin Salabiye connected with a pair of free throws and Sloan netted a basket, as the Sand Devils closed the Wildcats' lead to four points, 31-27. 

Chinle's Kylen Yazzie canned a pair of free throws and Page's Alvarez connected with a basket prior to the end of the third period. Chinle held a 33-29 lead.

Burbank canned six points, Denetdeel and Angelo Lewis both added sa basket, as Chinle took a 43-29 lead with over three minutes remaining in the game. With over two minutes remaining in the game, Wagner hit a free to give Chinle a 44-31 lead.

Four points from Curtis Begay droved the final nail in the coffin with one minute remaining in the game.

Cooper Burbank netted 22 points to pace Chinle.

Chinle head coach Raul Mendoza said the Wildcats hit some speed bumps early.

"We didn't start well," Mendoza said. "We played a lot better in the second, third and fourth quarters. The guys played good defense. Cooper (Burbank) did a good job. He hit key baskets for us. It was a good win. We have to prepare for the state tournament."

Chinle, 25-4, has earned a first round bye in the state tournament. The Wildcats will play its first game of the state tournament on February 16.

Page, 19-7, entertains Benjamin Franklin this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the opening round of the state tournament.