After playing poorly, but winning both games in their pool at the Winslow Winter Classic last weekend, the Lady Roadrunners of Holbrook played much better in the championship bracket despite losing both games to claim fourth in the 12-team tournament.
Beginning with pool play on Thursday, the Lady Roadrunners faced Chinle and held off the Lady Wildcats down the stretch to win the game 50-46. Holbrook scored well in the first eight minutes, but made several defensive mistakes, allowing Chinle to score well also. In the second neither team had much luck scoring, leaving the Lady Roadrunners with a three-point halftime lead. The teams matched each other in scoring throughout the second half, leaving Holbrook with the win.
Holbrook converted just 12 of 30 free throw attempts and made only two three-point shots, both by Kellin Bakurza. Chinle hit four three-pointers and went 10 for 16 at the line.
Bakurza led the team with 11 points. Jessica Paz added 10, Shantina Kinlicheenie, 9, Aaren LaRose, 8, Kaynasa Curley, 5, Col’Bi Nez, 5, and Samantha Smith, 2.
“Missing 18 free throws and at least five layups kept this game much closer than it really should have been. After the first quarter we did a good job defending their best player, but the easy misses on our end are something we need to clean up to advance in the state playoffs,” said Coach Greg Perkins.
Holbrook faced Coconino in pool play on Friday afternoon and eventually played well enough to win the game 44-31. Neither team really executed all that well on the offensive end, but Holbrook’s staple, which is its defense, was up to the task and offset a really poor shooting night to earn the win. Holbrook led 22-16 at the half and held Coconino to single digits in the third and fourth quarters to get the win.
Bakurza led the way with 11 points. Curley added 8, Paz and Starla Smith, 6 each, Kinlicheenie, 5, Nez, 3, LaRose and Heather Dudley, 2 each, and Brittany Baldwin, 1.
As a team the Lady Roadrunners made seven of 14 free throw attempts and hit just one three-point shot. Coconino countered with an eight for 12 performance at the line and made three shots from distance.
The two pool play wins advanced Holbrook to the championship bracket, where the Lady Birds joined Tuba City, Winslow and Window Rock. Facing the Lady Warriors in the semi-final round, Holbrook stepped up its play against one of the pre-season favorites to win the division title.
Holbrook came out on fire in the first period, netting 19 points to grab a six-point lead. Bakurza drained a pair of threes, scoring 10 to lead the way. In the second Holbrook managed just one field goal, but still went to the break down just one point. Holbrook opened the second half with a 6-0 run to grab the momentum, taking a 37-31 lead into the fourth quarter. Still leading by eight with three minutes left, Holbrook allowed Tuba City to get four consecutive offensive rebounds and scores, wiping out that hard earned lead in just over two minutes. Trailing by three with less than 10 seconds left, LaRose nailed a three from the corner which, combined with a late game defensive stand, pushed Holbrook into overtime.
In the overtime session Tuba City scored two quick buckets and never gave up the lead, eventually getting the 61-53 overtime win.
“Despite the loss it was good to see the ladies play well again. Up until this game we really hadn’t put a complete four quarters of solid play together. In this game we did and it made a difference,” said Coach Perkins. “Unfortunately, we didn’t keep them off the offensive boards in a critical two-minute stretch, otherwise we would have been playing for the title, but now we know we can compete with the best schools in our division. Up until this game, I wasn’t completely sure of that.”
Bakurza and Kinlicheenie netted 13 points each. Curley added 9, LaRose, 8, Paz, 6, and Nez and Dudley, 2 each. Holbrook made seven of 12 free throws and hit six three-point shots.
Facing the defending state champion Lady Scouts for third and fourth both teams played stellar defense throughout the first half, which ended in a 13-13 deadlock. Window Rock took a one-point lead into the fourth, then held on for a 41-35 win.
Curley and Kinlicheenie led Holbook with 6 points each. Bakurza added 5, Baldwin, Starla Smith and Nez, 4 each, LaRose, 3, Dudley, 2, and Samantha Smith, 1. The team made six of seven free throws and hit three from behind the arc.
“Overall, I am pleased with how we finished the tournament. Fourth place in a field as strong as this tournament has its justification that we can play with the best teams in our division when we play well. Kellin and Shantina were both named to the all tournament team, and I thought Kaynasa played very well throughout all four games for us. She has really stepped up her play this year and I hope to continue to see good things from her. Now we need to take the momentum from the final day in this tournament and carry it over to our final games before the break and into January,” the coach concluded.
Holbrook is currently 9-4 on the season and will host Alchesay on Thursday, Dec. 22, in the final game before Christmas. The Lady Birds will be playing three games at a tournament in Chinle on Dec. 28 and 29.