The Sand Devils basketball team brought home a trophy to welcome in 2018. They dominated the Striking Eagle Native American Basketball Invitational held at the Striking Eagle Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Competing and surprising the seven other teams and painting a positive prediction for the remaining 2017-2018 basketball season.
With the 3A regional games around the corner Page High’s boys varsity basketball has fans believing a state banner may be on the way.
The first elimination round paired the sand devils opposite Ruidoso, New Mexico’s Ruidoso High School Warriors top-ranked no. 5 team in New Mexico’s 4A division. The game was a great beginning to the final match as the Sand Devils brought some great talent to the court with Justin Salabiye scoring 19 points, Cheyenne Richardson bringing in 10 points and Lane Dempsey adding 9 points to the overall total score of 65 to 50. Sand Devils took the win to advance. Justin Salabiye was the Most Valuable Player of the game.
Second round elimination matched the Sand Devils against Cuba High School Rams after their win against Saint Michaels Indian School. Cuba Rams another top-ranked no. 4 team in New Mexico’s 3A Division. Sand Devils held their own once again as they took on the Rams bringing the New Mexico team taste of what Arizona’s 3A Region is bringing to the court. The final score for the win Sand Devils 61, Ram’s 47. The 61 point lead was spread out amoung the Sand Devils evenly with Cheyrnne Richardson with 14 points, Dainian Bitsinnie bringing in 11 points with 9 of those from landing three out of five three-pointers, Robert Smith with 9 points, and Jonah Larson also with 9 points as top scorers in the game. The Most Valuable Player for this game was Cheyenne Richardson.
The championship round in the invitational had the Page Sand Devils against the San Carlos Braves from San Carlos, Arizona ranked no. 9 in Arizona and no. 12 in the 2A Division.
The story is much of the same in this championship round, with Page takibg home the win and dominating the tournament against giants of New Mexico and Arizona. Most Valuable Player was Lane Dempsey and All Tourney goes to Jonah Larson.
Page Sand Devil’s Head Coach Russ Skubal gives credit where credit is due and is happy with his team’s progress.
We started off really strong with gangbusters,” he said. “We scored 24 points and then did the job defensively in the first quarter. Then just kept them there defensively. Justin Salabiye and Lane Dempsey started off super strong, getting good buckets making good passes and sharing the ball. [Throughout] we kept a 7 to 15 lead and just kept them at bay and scored on them.
Skubal also credits the Sand Devils for being able to face great opponents.
“The [Braves] have a really great team and they averaged a lot more points than we expected them to score on us,” said Coach Skubal. “Thursday we played Ruidoso who was no. 11 in New Mexico last year and we beat them by 14. Cuba was a state final four team last year and they had their team come back and we beat them by 15.”
However, Skubal is not thinking a state title just yet, and as ever, he’s umble about the team’s success.
Hey we just want to get to state playoffs and see what we can do.”
With the latest statistical updates and the wins from this tournament the Page Sand Devils have advanced their Arizona Ranking to no. 60 which is a 37 point jump from their former ranking. They have secured a no. 4 ranking in the 3A Division.