he Lady Sand Devils played the Ganado Hornets last Saturday and it must have felt a bit like the plot of Groundhog Day for them.
It was the second time the two teams have met this season. The Sand Devils easily defeated them in their first meeting Jan. 12, 53-38, and last Saturday’s rivalry was a near replica of the first game, with the Sand Devils beating the Hornets 47-22.
The Lady Sand Devils played three games last week. On Tuesday, they played American Leadership Academy and beat them 53-42. On Friday, they defeated the Chinle Wildcats 53-38.
The 3A North Regional tournament starts this Thursday in Chinle and goes through Saturday. The Sand Devils have a first-round bye Thursday. They’ll return to play Friday at 6 p.m. against the winner of Ganado and Window Rock. Girls basketball head coach Ryan Whitehorse is predicting it will be Ganado. He said he and his team are ready for regionals and state to begin. At this point in the season the Lady Sand Devils have played every team twice and they’ll face some of them again during the playoffs. The trick is not to get complacent, thinking they can breeze through their opponents.
“I don’t think that will happen,” said coach Whitehorse. “Now we’re at the lose-and-go-home part of the season and my players are aware of that. I have some seniors who have really stepped up their play and their leadership roles. They’re doing a great job making sure everyone’s motivated and ready to play.”
At the end of the regular season coach Whitehorse is happy with the way his team has progressed during the season, and playing as a group. He’s also pleased with the effort he’s getting from the individual players as well.
“Camryn [Nockideneh] has been a great surprise for us this year,” he said. “She’s really impressed me offensively, and she’s turned into one of our best defensive players. I usually match her up against our opponents’ best player.”
Coach Whiteshorse said the team’s point guard, Myka Taliman, has played a crucial role throughout the season, and they’ll continue to depend on her skills as they advance into the playoffs.
“Myka can score a lot for us, but we depend on her for a bigger role than that,” he said. “She’s the one who controls the game’s tempo and keeps the team, and especially the offense, organized.”
As the Lady Sand Devils prepare for the regional and state tournaments coach Whitehorse’s players will get matched against specific players and they’ll receive scouting reports that breakdown their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
As Whitehorse and his team of talented ball players enter the post-season he’s hoping that the Groundhog Day plot continues for his team and that, come Feb. 23, he and his players will be hoisting its second championship trophy in two years.