The Lady Sand Devils finished in second place in last weekend’s Lake Powell Holiday Classic losing 51-35 to Bishop Gorman – a perennial powerhouse team from Las Vegas, Nev. – in Saturday’s championship game.
Getting to the championship round they overwhelmed Saguaro High School (Scottsdale) 51-19 in the tournament’s first round Thursday. In a rematch of last year’s state championship game they faced off against the Monument Valley Mustangs Friday night and defeated them 40-33.
In the championship game the Bishop Gorman Gaels scored first with two free throws and never gave up the lead.
The Gaels were quite a bit taller than the Lady Sand Devils and it affected the way the Sand Devils attacked the basket. They utilized a circular, constantly moving offense. Guards Myka Taliman and Mikala Benally kept the ball moving in the front court while looking for cutters in an open lane to the basket.
The Lady Sand Devils graduated post player, Jacey Salabiye, who played a key role in last season’s success. So far this season, coach Whitehorse is looking at a few players to fill that role and he got a good look at freshman Torrance Begay, who played impressively during Saturday’s game. She had eight points in the first half, most of which came from cleaning up missed shots from her team mates. Despite few turnovers and capitalizing on offensive rebounds, the Sand Devils still trailed 29-19 at halftime.
But they had a great third quarter and began chipping away at the Gaels’ lead. They allowed the Gaels just two points in the third quarter’s first six minutes while adding nine of their own in the same time. With two minutes left in the third quarter they only trailed by two points.
But the Gaels made some adjustments both offensively and defensively and added four more points to close out the quarter, and they carried that momentum with them to the end of the game, beating the Lady Sand Devils 51-35.
Despite the loss coach Whitehorse was very happy with the tournament and growth he saw in his players.
“Offensively and defensively we learned a lot about ourselves,” said coach Whitehorse. “Defensively we took teams out of their offensive game plan, and offensively we learned to just be patient with the ball, be disciplined and wait for the other team to make a mistake and execute off of that.”
Coach Whitehorse said challenging games, such as the one they played Saturday, are vital launchpads for the season’s success. It helps his team develop as athletes and helps the coaching staff develop their plans.
“A lot of my players stepped up this weekend,” said coach Whitehorse. “They learned a lot about themselves and what kind of player they can be and that’s going to help us out in the long run.
“We got some confidence going in some of the girls and they got a lot of experience.That’s going to help me out going forward getting a rotation going.”
It was a busy week for the Lady Sand Devils who played four games in five days. Prior to the tournament they traveled to Winslow on Tuesday, where they lost 46-45. The Sand Devils are now 3-2 for the season.
Myka Taliman and Camryn Nockideneh were both selected to the All Tournament Team.
The Lady Sand Devils travel to Tucson where they will play Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in a non-conference game.