Boys basketball team moves to no. 1 in 3A North

The advancement comes after another nail-biting win last week.

The Sand Devils started another victorious run last week. They began things with a 3A North Regional win for the Sand Devils against the Monument Valley Mustangs Tuesday night in Kayenta giving the Sand Devils a 3A regional 6-1 win/loss record and a 8-2 Conference record.

The Sand Devils lost to the Mustangs earlier in the season and the anticipation of the rematch had those in the gym on the edge of their seats as the Sand Devils lost the first game against the Mustangs at the beginning of the season.

Now, with more experience and a banner on the line the Sand Devils took the court by storm.

The first half was filled with mega-energy as Lane Dempsey and Justin Salabiye got into foul trouble with two fouls each within the first three minutes, which took them out of the first half.

Bitsinnie stepped in to hit four three points to give the Sand Devils an 18-16 lead at halftime.

The Mustangs went into a 2-3 zone during the third quarter that helped them stay in the game. Monument Valley’s Mikendrick Yazzie hit several three-pointers to close the gap on the scoreboard. The Sand Devils offense went a bit flat which gave the Sand Devil’s defense a jumpstart.

In a nail-clinching fourth quarter the Sand Devils beat the Mustangs’ pressure defense, while their offense gave a final 11-point surge that tied the game in the last two minutes.

With an all-around team effort the Sand Devils made the winning shot with two seconds left on the clock for the win 52-50.

“You always have those games where you’re not a hundred percent,” said boys basketball head coach Russ Skubal. “I feel we had a really good first half and we did what we needed to do to keep us on track. We weathered a tough storm and came out with a ‘W’. It was a close game all through out. We did a god job keeping them from scoring defensively.”

The Sand Devils set northern Arizona on fire as they improved their streak to eight wins Saturday night against the Holbrook Roadrunners in a non-regional game.

They brought home another win bringing their season record to an impressive 15-3.

In the first half it was defensive player Lane Dempsey who “shot the lights out” according Coach Skubal.

The hustle and team effort gave them a 24 to 7 lead in the first quarter. They added another 21 points to the scoreboard in the second quarter leading 45 to 18 at halftime.

Second half was a mere formality as the Sand Devils retained their lead throughout the second half adding another 24 points to the game. Final score of the non-conference game was 69-33 for the Sand Devils.

High point man was Robert Smith with 16 points. Lane Dempsey added 15 points hitting five 3-pointers through out the game.
Danien Bitsinnie added 13 points to the score with 6 assists and 6 steals.

Coach Skubal commented about the game, “We came out on fire. The game went very well and we got a good lead in the first half.
Our defense limited their scoring by stopping their entry point to give us an early lead.”

Skubal noted that Dempsey had a good game.

“We had talked to Dempsey about shooting more from the outside because he is a good shooter. He just came out on fire.”

According to, the Sand Devils stand at no. 1 in the 3A North Regional ranking and ranked no. 5 in the 3A Conference Division making them the team to watch.

Justin Salabiye has an individual player ranking him no. 9 of the top 25 players in Arizona high schools.

They play the Longhorns tonight at 5:30 p.m. in Payson.

They return to Page Thursday night where they’ll take on the Winslow Bulldogs.


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