Sand Devils finish 3rd at Lake Powell Holiday Classic


Coach Skubal likes the improvement his team showed.

Page High School held the 41st annual Lake Powell Holiday Classic last weekend hosting teams from Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada.
The Sand Devils played the El Capitan Eagles from Colorado City, Arizona in the first round and easily defeated them 55-30. The Eagles were a last minute addition to the tournament after SLAM Academy cancelled at the last minute.


The Sand Devils played the Valley Christian Trojans in round two Friday night, a much taller team. Their shortest player was six feet tall.


The Sand Devils came to the court with their signature gangbuster energy, and immediately jumped into a tight, man-to-man defense and a fast break offense.


The action seemed to catch the Trojans offense by surprise and they had difficulty getting the ball into the paint.


Offensively the Sand Devils got a lift from Dainian Sloan who had several steals, and briefly tied the game with one of several three-point shots. However, the Trojans were able to retake the lead, 29-22 at halftime.


The Sand Devils offense fell cold in the third quarter adding just one point the entire quarter.


In the fourth quarter the Trojans found the holes the Sand Devils man to man defense and now added points from the paint.  They took the win 55-33.


Despite the loss, boys basketball head coach Russ Skubal was not disappointed in his team.


“This is the kind of game where you find yourself, and this was the first time this season they played as a team,” Skubal said. “They found their groove.”


On Saturday, Skubal’s team played for third place against the Kingman Academy Tigers.


Skubal looked forward to battling the Tigers.


Prior to moving to Page Skubal had coached some of the Kingman players and his own son, Trey Skubal, is their guard.


“It’s going to be awkward to play him since we’ve been having this rivalry between us,” said Trey Skubal before the game. “It will be the first time we played him [on the court].”
“The Tigers may know some of my plays but not all of them,” joked coach Skubal before the game.  


Saturday’s battle for third place was an intense game as both teams may as well been playing against their own shadows.


To the Tiger’s surprise, the Sand Devils completely changed up their plays in the game’s first quarter and Sloan, Jonah Holiday and Justin Salabiye took advantage of the Tigers’ surprise hitting open shots. They led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter.


During the second quarter the Sand Devil’s defense keyed on the Tigers’ three point shooters and tightened their inside game denying their opponents of their rebounding and inside game. With the inside closed off, the Tigers brought in more three point shooters and utilized a two-man defense.


The Sand Devils guards continued to find back door cutters, and Gabe Gomez added nine points giving the Sand Devils a 28-20 lead going into the half.


In the third quarter the Sand Devils built on their first half momentum. The Sand Devils offense set screens that helped Gomez get free. Gomez, who still had a hot hand, added another 13 points in the third. Nez Tsotsie also got a hot hand and landed several two and three pointers of his own to help widen the lead 54-33 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter the Sand Devils defense continued to keep the Tigers out of the paint forcing them to shoot three pointers. They were able to hit some but not enough to cancel the massive poinr deficit.  Meanwhile, Tsotsie landed six free throws in a row in the game’s final minutes.


The Sand Devils took the win for third place 70-41.


“Gomez and Nez Tsotsie had the hot hands and we just kept feeding them the ball,” said coach Skubal.


Skubal was happy with the development he saw in his team over the weekend.


“This is why we have the tournament at the beginning of the season.”


The Christian Valley Trojans took the tournament championship. The Rio Rancho Rams (Rio Rancho, NM) took second place.


The All Tourney players were: James Brown (Rio Rancho Rams), Bryce Thomas (Hurricane Tigers), Tyler Chinyere (Kingman Academy Tigers), Milekie Dunbar (Monument Valley Mustangs), Justin Salabiye (Page Sand Devils), Conner Braun (Valley Christian Trojans), Q. Cangus (Rio Rancho Rams). Gabe Gomez (Page Sand Devils). Matt Meyers (Hurricane Tigers), Jalen Grijalva (Valley Christian Trojans).


Valley Christian’s Logan Phillips was named tournament MVP.


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