By Greg Perkins
The Roadrunners picked up their first two wins of the young basketball season at the Tate’s Auto Group Shootout over the weekend, with wins over Hopi and Valley sandwiched between a pair of losses to Durango, Colo., once in pool play and again in the championship game.
Holbrook opened pool play on Thursday against a much taller Durango team and struggled from the field, making just one field goal in the first half. The Roadrunners were, however, able to convert 11 of 13 free throws to stay in the game against the Demons. In the third period, Dontae Hollins connected for all eight of his points, helping pull Holbrook within four with one quarter left to play. In the final quarter Durango’s size was again too much for Holbrook to overcome as the Birds made just three field goals in the 44-32 loss.
Along with Hollins’ 8 points, Kyle Chee added 7, Triston Zahne, 6, Sheldon Silversmith and Nathan Tur-ley, 3 each, Andon Hatch and Robert Nelson, 2 each, and Miireux Begay, 1.
The loss placed the Birds into the bracket opposite the Hopi Bruins, who they met on Friday afternoon. The Bruins led by one at the end of the first, but Holbrook’s defense shut them down in the second, allowing only two points and helping the Birds take a 24-12 halftime lead. Holbrook led by double digits at the end of three and utilized eight fourth-quarter points from Silversmith to close out the Bruins with a 47-40 win.
Chee led Holbrook in scoring with 17 points. Turley added 13, Silversmith, 8, Nelson, 4, Hatch, 3, and Zahne, 2.
In the semi-final round, Holbrook faced the Valley Pirates, who had defeated the host team Winslow in their first round matchup. Holbrook played well in the opening eight minutes, building a nine-point lead be-hind seven from Chee. The Roadrunners caught fire in the second, netting 21 points with balanced scoring against the Pirate defense to lead by 18 at the half. The Roadrunners controlled the second half, as well, earning a rematch with Durango in the title game with a 64-49 win over Valley.
Chee scored well, leading Holbrook with 22 points. Hollins added 12, Turley, 11, Silversmith, 8, Hatch, 5, Begaii, 4, and Nelson, 2.
Once again facing a taller Durango team Holbrook’s offense struggled, but its defense was up to the task, holding the Demons to just three first-quarter points. The Roadrunners were able to score from distance in the second, but Durango pushed the ball inside to force a halftime tie at 16-16. Hatch hit his fourth trey of the game in the third period, helping Holbrook stay within one heading to the fourth. In the final stanza, Durango made just enough free throws to hold off Holbrook’s comeback attempt, winning the tournament by a final of 37-33.
Hatch led the way with 15 points. Turley added 6, Hollins, 5, Zahne, 4, and Chee, 3.
The Birds moved their overall record to 2-3 on the season. After hosting a pesky Mogollon team on Tues-day night, they will be in first round action at the Round Valley tournament Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 6-8.
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By Greg Perkins