By Sam Conner
The Bulldogs of Winslow High School defeated the Longhorns in Payson last Thursday night, then downed the Show Low Cougars the following night in Winslow. The wins improved Winslow’s record to 20-10 for the season.
The Longhorns held a 16-14 lead after the first quarter and pushed that to 39-29 by the half. Payson was still ahead 52-44 after three quarters. Winslow rallied and outscored the Longhorns 24-9 in the final period to walk away with the 68-61 victory.
Keenan Keams led all scorers with 15 points for Winslow, followed by Trevor Begay with 14 and Stevin Nelson with 12.
Matt Davis led Payson with 14 points and Chaz Davis added 13.
Winslow 14 15 15 24 68
Payson 16 23 13 9 61
Winslow: Keenan Keams 15, Trelonnie Sanders 8, Demetrius Gamez 2, Milland Thomas 6, Stevin Nelson 12, Frank Kelly 2, Trevor Begay 14, Austyn Mattox 2, Savion Fuller 3 and Vincenzio Sells 4.
Payson: Austin Young 9, Chaz Davis 13, Spencer Herrera 4, Matt Davis 14, Kain England 7, Ryan Wacker 2, Jared Varner 5 and William Youngberg 7.
The Bulldogs earned a 68-54 home court win over the Cougars the next evening. The win was the fourth straight for the Bulldogs.
Show Low started very strong and built a 22-17 first quarter lead, but the Bulldogs rallied with excellent three-point shooting and took a 39-35 advantage into the locker room at intermission. Winslow had stretched that lead to 51-44 by the end of the third quarter and pulled away in the final period.
Nelson led Winslow and all scorers with 23 points, followed by Milland Thomas with 13 and Trelonnie Sanders with 12.
Jackson Jessop led Show Low with 18 points and Sean Potter added 15.
Three-point shooting was key for the Bulldogs, who made 11 long range shots to just four for the Cougars, who had a 15 to eight advantage in two-point field goals. Winslow also hit a superb 19 of 21 free throw attempts to 12 of 18 for the Cougars.
Show Low 22 13 9 10 54
Winslow 17 22 12 17 68
Show Low: Sean Potter 15, Sam Tate 8, Curran Nicks 1, Colby Maxwell 5, Brice Rova 5, Jackson Jessop 18 and David Brachney 2.
Winslow: Keenan Keams 2, Trelonnie Sanders 12, Demetrius Gamez 4, Milland Thomas 13, Stevin Nelson 23, Frank Kelly 3, Trevor Begay 6, Jesi Bitsoi 3 and Vincenzio Sells 2.
“We have had a big week of basketball with three section games against Holbrook, Payson and Show Low,” said Coach Ricky Greer. “Holbrook came into the week with a 1½ game lead over Snowflake and us with a 5-0 section record, while we and Snowflake were both 3-1. We defeated Holbrook Tuesday at our place, 66-52. Then, Thursday night we had a crazy fourth quarter comeback in which we had trailed by 14 in the third and by 10 with 5:45 left in the game. But we hit some key shots and really locked down defensively, pulling out a 68-61 victory. Finally, we edged Show Low 68-54 in a hard fought, physical basketball game.
“We now exit the week with a half-game lead in the section with a 6-1 record. Holbrook and Snowflake both are 5-1 and play each other on Tuesday night. That will make our Friday night contest in Snowflake huge and probably for the region crown.
“The great week of basketball was made complete with a very memorable Senior Night, maybe the most memorable in our program’s long and storied tradition,” Greer continued. “We have 10 seniors this year who have guided us to a 20-10 overall record and to a nine-point lead late in the game against Show Low. One of our senior post players, Jesi Bitsoi, completely tore his ACL in our game against Holbrook back on Dec. 10. He is scheduled for surgery in early March. It has been heartbreaking knowing that he is missing out on his senior season, but he hasn’t complained.
“I have been thinking about how we could get him in a game in the state tournament and hopefully create a lasting moment for him. However, it came last night. I wasn’t planning on playing him at all and didn’t even put him in the book. But, he wanted to be in uniform on Senior Night for the pre-game ceremony. Late in the game, it became evident that we had the opportunity to get him in while running our four-corner offense, allowing him to be in a corner and possibly get a look at a three. The crowd was wanting to see him on the floor, the student section was chanting for him and we were very blessed that as we entered him into the game with 20 seconds left with Show Low shooting free throws, both the officials and the Show Low coaching staff were very understanding and didn’t assess the technical foul due to my book error. It didn’t look like he would get a shot as Show Low was fouling, but our players willed it to happen. After they fouled our guard Stevin Nelson and he hit two free throws to make it an 11-point lead, Trelonnie Sanders deflected the ball on the in-bounds, picked it up and swung the ball to Jesi, who missed a three from the wing. Tre knocked the ball loose again, this time Milland Thomas picked it up and hit Jesi in the corner for a huge three with a couple seconds to go. The place went nuts! It was such a special moment for such a great young man!”
said the coach.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to play at Window Rock Tuesday night, and at Snowflake on Thursday, Feb. 6.
By Sam Conner