Feb 272013

The Lady Roadrunners’ string of state tournament wins came to an end on Friday night at Jobing.com in Glendale in the first of two semi-final games. The Holbrook squad, seeded 12th, joined the top three seeds, Winslow, Valley and Window Rock, in the final four of Division III. Holbrook’s final four berth was the first since the 1989-90 season under Coach Dale Larsen. Winslow came into the game with a long list of final four appearances, including last year’s state runner-up finish to Page.
This time around Winslow was not to be denied. The Lady Bulldogs showed their strength early, jumping to a 4-0 lead, but Holbrook came back to tie the game at 6-6. With the Bulldogs threatening to pull away near the end of the first, the Roadrunners hit a couple of threes and trailed by just one after a competitive first quarter.
In the second Winslow tried to stretch its lead, but again the Roadrunners chipped away and trailed by just three at 31-28 with over two minutes left in the half. From that point on, however, the Bulldogs began to take control of the game with their dominant post player, Shandiin Armao, leading the way. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent in the first half with all but two of their points coming either in the paint or at the line. Holbrook shot 38 percent from the field with the majority of those points coming from the outside.
“We tried to pressure their guards in the first half, hoping to force some turnovers and keep the ball away from Armao, where we knew they had an advantage. In my opinion she is easily the best player on their team and the best player in our division, despite being just a sophomore. We forced some early turnovers and capitalized, but they just got too many opportunities inside,” said Coach Greg Perkins.
Winslow turned a nine-point halftime cushion into a 16-point lead heading into the fourth after doubling up the Birds in the third.
“Once they went to a zone in the second half we knew we would have to catch fire from three-point land and we shot just 22 percent from behind the arc in the second half. That, combined with their points off our turnovers and our 28 percent shooting for the game, hurt our chances,” said the coach. “Credit their defense for our shooting woes. They are a tough defensive team, which is why they won the title on Saturday night.”
Holbrook was led by Kaynasa Curley with 12 points. Starla Smith added 10, Jessica Paz, 7, Teyah Goldtooth and Brittany Baldwin, 4 each, Summer Olney 3, and Summer Charley, Mariah Cummings and Col’Bi Nez, 2 each.
Holbrook made 15 of 52 field goals, including six of 21 attempts from behind the arc. The Birds shot well at the free throw line, making 10 of 14 attempts.
Winslow countered by making 26 of 62 attempts and went zero for five behind the arc. At the line the Bulldogs were 17 for 28. They were led by Armao with 32 points. Halle Hayes added 11, Marcella Joe, 10, Mattea Begaii, 8, Kaelyn Bitsoi, 4, and Laylane Benslow and Tannon Tom, 2 each.
“After losing six straight games in January I have to commend the girls on this team for their resilience and heart,” said Coach Perkins. “We had an incredible season with 23 wins and an outstanding tournament run, and these girls took this program to a level it hasn’t seen in some time. I have some amazing seniors on this team who have laid down some very large footsteps for the underclassmen to follow. These seniors are special people, and will be missed. However, this program continues to build and I look forward to working in the off-season and preparing for next year. We have several players returning with a ton of varsity experience, so our expectations remain high.
“On behalf of the girls, I would like to thank the hundreds of fans who supported and followed these girls throughout the season and the state tournament all the way to Glendale. I also want to thank all of those people who made special efforts to support the girls on our way to the final four.”