Sand Devils finish third at Lake Powell Holiday Classic

The boys basketball team performed very well against some very talented teams.

Page High School hosted the 40th Annual Lake Powell Holiday Classic Tournament and brought together a new mix of competition to the city of Page. Formerly named the NGS Holiday Classic, eight teams took the court to vie for the title of Lake Powell Holiday Tournament Champion.

Guest Teams included: Monument Valley Mustangs; Tuba City Warriors, Tolleson Wolverines, Kingman Academy Tigers, Slam Academy 1 (varsity), Slam Academy 2 (junior varsity) from Henderson, Nev., Arbor View Aggies from Las Vegas, Nev, and of course the Page Sand Devils.

The Sand Devils played the fourth game in the first elimination round against Slam Academy 2. Making his first home game return to the court was Lane Dempsy who helped the Sand Devils take an early lead. Slam 2 was clearly no match for the Sand Devils due to their minimum experience as a jv team. The Sand Devils were very sportman-like about their competition and matched up thier opponents in kind with freshmen players. The Sand Devils were able to secure the win  69-15.

The Sand Devils advanced to the next round. Also advancing: Tolleson Wolverines, Slam 1, and the Arbor View Aggies.


Page Sand Devils bring the heat

The round two championship elimination matched the Sand Devils with Tolleson Wolverines, one of the most exciting games of the tournament. The first quarter found the Wolverines trailing by two points when the Sand Devils surprised the Wolverines by unloading their skills and teamwork. 

The Sand Devils possessed the lead through ut the  second quarter by taking the ball to the hoop, executing flawless rebounding and utilizing the free throw advantage. By the end of the first half it was Lane Dempsey and Jonah Larsen who brought the team together by the halftime buzzer.

In the third quarter the Wolverines came back with several shots including a couple three pointers to bring up their the score. Larson, Dempsey and Robert Smith kept it competetive as the high scorers in this quarter. Despite the numerous fouls committed by the Wolverines, however, the Sand Devils were not able to retain thier lead as the Wolverines gained serveral shots to take the lead 50 - 40.

In the fourth quarter, Sand Devils brought the heat as Cheyenne Richardson stepped up with rebound assists and landed each basket. Dempsey was sent to the free throw line when the Wolverines allowed for numerous fouls against him. By the end the Wolverines began to commit emotional unsportman-like conduct fouls which Dempsey again flawlessly used to the Sand Devils advantage by hitting free throws. Damian Bitsoie had the Wolverines on the their toes as the guy to watch as the Wolverines lost their lead.

It was in the last two minutes of the game when the Wolverines began to commit more unsportsman-like conduct fouls with emotional outbursts at the referees, including some the Wolverines’ coaches. Again Dempsey was flawless in his free throw shots. It was in the last 45 seconds the seats in the gym began to thunder when Smith and Bitsinnie brought the Sand Devils to within three points. Then more fouls by the Wolverines cost them control of the ball which almost lost them the game. With the Sand Devils trailing 62-61 with 3.1 seconds left and time out after another, the Wolverines gained possesion running the clock down to keep the lead and win a very exciting game.

When it was over Page High School security was called in to escort the referees out safely. The Wolverines also had to be escorted to the locker room due their escalated emotions of their near loss.

“My kids played hard and I am proud of them,” said Sand Devils head coach Russ Skubal. “We just battled and battled. I think they expected to beat us with their athleticism, I mean they are taller and faster and they had some advangtages. But my players have a skills and great, great heart. Tonight we had Smith and Richardson had a big night and Bitsinnie stepped in the half. We like to keep it exciting.” 

Skubal said the game’s emotion and high adrenaline found its way into the locker room afterward.

“We had some guys get heated with each other over mistakes [in the game]. They apologized to each other for losing it. I told them [being a team] was more important than a one point loss. They were man enough to admit it. I’m impressed with the young men they are. I told them I love my team... I love this commuity and I would choose them ten times out of ten over any team in America.”

The Sand Devils played for third place on Saturday and were able to beat Slam Academy 1 68 - 60 in an exciting display of sportsmanship.

First Consolation bracket advanced Kingman Tigers by eliminating Slam Academy 2, 66- 42. Rivals Monument Valley Mustangs and Tuba City Warriors vied for advancement in what was a show stopping display of skills which resulted in Mustangs taking the game 53-51.  Kingman and Monument Valley were matched and they played a well-executed game in the final consolation round. When the dust cleared it was the Kingman Tigers who walked away with the first consolation slot. Slam academy 2 and Tuba City played for the second consolation slot with Tuba taking the win 69- 38.

 The championship game matched the Tolleson Wolverines and the Arbor View Aggies, two very talented teams who brought their best to the court.  Both team showed exceptional skills under pressure and compelled Page ctizens to cheer them on. Slam dunk shots and beautifully executed lay ups were on the menu and in the end it was the Arbor View Aggies who brought home the championship title with an 11 point spread, 58 - 49.


Award ceremony

Lake Powell Holiday Classic sponsor Dixie Ellis and her son Cyrus Ellis presented the Tournament Champion Arbor View Aggies from Las Vegas with a plaque and memorabilia sweat hoodies. Most Valuable Player was Arbor View’s senior guard Comillion Smith, which Arbor View’s head coach, Dustin Clayton credits his high points and slam dunks in the final game.

All Tourney recognition awards went to: Arbor Views’s Nigerian born Favour Chukwukelu, senior Sevonyae Smith; Tolleson Tiger’s senior Darius Pearson, junior Lewis Hughes; Page Sand Devil’s junior Jonah Larson, sophomore Damien Bitsinnie; and Monument Valley Mustang’s senior Mikendrick Yazzie.


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