The Lady Sand Devils had a busy week last week, playing four games in five days. They were victorious in three of the four games.
Their busy week began Tuesday when they hosted the Coconino Panthers. They beat them 47-30. After one day’s rest they entered the NGS Holiday Classic playing host to schools from three states around.
They easily defeated Leading Edge Academy 64 to 46 in the opening round of the tournament.
They faced the Kirtland Central Broncos (Kirtland, NM) on Friday who turned out to be a much tougher opponent. The two teams seemed well-matched in the game’s opening quarter, which ended 8 to 8. But the Sand Devils starting point guard Myka Taliman commited her second foul only half way through the first quarter and was placed on the bench.
The Broncos ran a full court defense the entire game and with Taliman on the bench the Sand Devils did not do a good job handling the pressure. Of their 13 possessions in the second quarter ten of them resulted in turnovers, and the Broncos outscored them 18 to four.
The Sand Devils offense committed far fewer turnovers in the second half, and their scoring improved but they struggled to find passing lanes to the paint. In the end the point deficit accrued during second quarter was too much for them to overcome. They lost to the Broncos 54 to 37.
The Lady Sand Devils returned to the hardwood Saturday competing against the Estrella Foothills Wolves (Goodyear, Ariz.) for third place. The game’s first quarter looked like a continuation of the dismal play from the previous day’s game. The Sand Devils found themselves trailing 8 to 2 in the game’s opening five minutes, then they found their rhythm.
The Sand Devils offense runs through their center Jaceye Salabiye and during Friday night’s loss they had been ineffective finding passing lanes to get her the ball. The Sand Devils have also had no three-point threat during the season’s first four games. Both of those changed Saturday.
The Sand Devils constructed ways to get the ball inside. Some of the passes went to Salabiye, but as often as not found other players moving inside the paint. Salabiye picked up her third foul in the second quarter and was called to the bench. Sophomore Dana Smith came off the bench to take her place and she played great.
A second Sand Devils sophomore, Camryn Nockideneh also reported to the game. Both Smith and Nockideneh played a great game Saturday adding points and an infusion of energy to their team that had been lacking the day before.
After trailing 8-2 halfway through the first quarter, the Sand Devils went on a 19-8 offensive tear to finish the first half. Seven of those points came from Nockideneh in the second quarter. The Sand Devils led 21-16 at halftime.
Nockideneh continued to impress, adding six more points in the third quarter, while Taliman found her groove from behind the three point line for the first time this season. She added four three-pointers in the second half. Taliman threatening to score from outside, helped open up the inside passing lanes.
The Sand Devils won the game 60-42 and placed third at this year’s NGS Holiday Classic tournament.
Salabiye was the game’s leading scorer with 15 points. She had 50 in the tournament. Nockideneh had 13 points, Taliman had 12, Dana Smith had six and LeLisa Watson had five.
The Lady Sand Devils travel to Ganado on Dec. 15 and return home Dec. 16 to take on the Window Rock. That game will be at 2:30.