The Page Sand Devils took another step toward 3A sectionals by dominating two days of basketball knocking out two games this weekend with a 3-1 regional win/loss against the Ganado Hornets and Window Rock Fighting Scouts. A double win weekend for the boys varsity was a peek of what is yet to come as the Sand Devils dropped a surprise game on their opponents.
Game 1- December 15th
The Sand Devils looked to have some competition against the Ganado Hornets when pre game warm-ups began. The Hornets jumped to the lead with the first baskets early on. Sand Devils did not stay without the lead. The Hornets played a great game sinking several three point baskets. Yet, throughout questionable fouls against them, the Sand Devils found their momentum and by the end of first half took the lead 25- 21.
The Sand Devils returned from the half a more focused team and unloaded a full barrel of talent, skill, experience, and above all, stamina, which Ganado seemed the lose in the third quarter. Utilizing their pass and rebound game, the Sand Devils first string took the lead to a 13 point spread by the end of the 3rd quarter 46- 29. Midway through the fourth quarter, with a 20 point lead, boys basket ball head coach Russ Skubal rotated in their second string for some experience against a skilled opponent. However, the story was much of the same as second string was executing their game with the same skills set as first string. Another full barrel of skill and talent took over to gain another 10 points in a matter of a minute giving the Sand Devils a commanding win, 62 - 32. Lane Dempsey, Jonah Larson, Dainian Bitsinnie, Cheyenne Richardson and Dahntay Dugi high point scorers in this game
Game 2- December 16th
The Sand Devils are fast in gaining respect among 3A Northern Section as a the team to beat. While raising the bar in their showmanship of team work under pressure and incredible versatility among their opponents they carry themselves with ‘class’.
Class on the court because when they play there is no need to brag, no need the be big headed and no need to look down on their opponent. Throughout the first season games the Sand Devils have come across opponents who, under pressure and panic of losing, have tried to intimidate the Sand Devils with aggressive tactics. Yet while remaining focused the Sand Devils just play the game. They have moved into a 5-2 wins-loss record to date with a 3-1 record in region.
In the second game of the weekend the Sand Devils took on the Window Rock Fighting Scouts in what was to be a perfect match of skills and hustle. In the first quarter both teams were able to assess and compete on the level of skill each team possessed.
The Scouts were definately fit to compete as they appeared to bring their A game. With the regional banner on the line, much of northern Arizona is watching as both teams had a lot to gain by way of respect. Media spectators expected the Sand Devils to win the game in the same manner as seen in previous games. However, with the Scouts’ skill level the Sand Devils changed the game and dished out a healthy serving of reserved talent not seen yet by their earlier competitors.
First quarter the Scouts were early to bring about the three point game taking the long shots and landing the baskets. The Sand Devils defense charged the Scouts’ offense to block more attempts at the three point line. Sand Devils worked steals and perfect assists on the drive giving the Sand Devils the lead, 17-15.
The second quarter had turnover after turnover with an average gain of ten points per team. Sand Devils defense stepped up to assure the lead stayed in their favor. Dempsey was on fire taking the three point line away from the scouts and forcing them to drive.
Play execution ran circles around the Scouts till they couldn’t drive in to land any shots. The Sand Devils showed a ten point lead was on the board. Scouts were able to rebound Sand Devil’s ball and did gain a second wind but they could not bridge the point spread to less than a five point margin at the end of the second quarter for 33-27 Sand Devils.
The second half seemed to have put the Scouts in a boxing parody of a heavy opponent swinging large, landing a few great solid hits while the champ is blocking and ducking till the heavy hitter loses a bit of power behind the punch. Then the champ land a knock out punch. In the third quarter the Scouts never knew what hit them.
It was experience and hard work paired with perfect timing when Bitsinnie got his hands on the ball, landing four wide-open three point shots. Larson was also left wide open down court for perfect layup after layup. The remaining shots were executed to perfection by rebound and assists of a full team effort; Richardson, Dugi, Salabyie, Dempsey, and Smith. End of third quarter score 60-34 Sand Devils.
Fourth quarter rotated in Jordan Varner and Cameron Billy who kept up the rebound execution and landing baskets against the Scouts. Again, second string rotated in and kept the lead to win the game at an astounding 73-45 Sand Devils win.
Dainian Bitsinnie was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player and Lane Dempsey the Defensive Most Valuable Player.
“I’m happy about it,” said Bitsinnie. “They just left me open to take the basket and I’m happy [to be the MVP] and happy for Dempsey. He is a beast on defense. He is always where we need him.”
The Sand Devils’, point for point, had the conditioning and stamina only gained by loyalty and respect for their team and love of the game. Coach Skubal had challenges early on bringing in two freshmen to the starting line but they rose to the challenge through hard work to gain wins towards the 3A region early in the season.
Coach Skubal not only coached the two freshman to handle the pressure of starting but conditioned second string to play as hard as the first string.
“[We say] iron sharpens iron,” said Coach Skubal. “We tell them if they want to play they have to make our first group outstanding. We play hard, play smart, play together. We compete in every drill.
“I’ll be honest, as young as we are, we have really gelled fast. We bought into the defensive end Salibiye calls it `Skubal D’. The kids aren’t afraid to play and when you love your team mates you play hard for them. Our goal every year is always hang a banner, win region and protect our house. We always smell a state win.”