By Greg Perkins
As we head into January, all eight of the area prep basketball programs are still in position to qualify for post-season play, although the majority of power point games are yet to be played for the boys’ and girls’ programs in Holbrook, Winslow, Snowflake and Joseph City. The first two weeks of the new year could go a long way in getting the four schools off to a positive start to the second half of the season. Holbrook, Winslow and Snowflake will battle each other in the coming weeks in what should be some exciting games for their fans.
The Holbrook Roadrunners will enter January ranked fourth in Division III. Their power point record of 6-1 has positioned them for a high finish with the remainder of their games scheduled against teams obviously ranked lower in power points. That being said, their first four games back will provide a tough early January test with contests against Page, Winslow, Snowflake and Valley Christian in the first two weeks.
The Lady Roadrunners are ranked 24th in the standings with a 3-3 regular season mark as the new year looms. Their January schedule is brutal with the flip side of the boys’ schedule. The majority of the Lady Birds remaining schedule is ranked inside the top 24 in the rankings. Like the boys’ team they will face Page, Winslow, Snowflake and Valley Christian in the first four outings. Page, Winslow and Valley Christian all figure to make deep post-season appearances. Holbrook needs to gain some momentum in January to have a chance to join them.
The Snowflake Lobos are ranked 13th in power points with a 2-1 season mark. The defending champs will host Verrado on Saturday, Jan. 2, then travel to Combs on Tuesday, Jan. 5, for a rematch of the state title game. They also face Chinle and Tuba City in the first two weeks back on the court. Snowflake and Holbrook could be headed to a sectional tournament matchup, although Winslow may have something to say about that. The remainder of the North boys’ teams don’t figure to give any of the three area teams many problems.
For the Lady Lobos, like the Lady Roadrunners and Lady Bulldogs, the opposite is true. The girls’ teams in the North have dominated the state tournament in the past couple of decades, and this year will not be an exception. Each night’s schedule on the girls’ side could feature two potential final four teams regardless of who is playing. Snowflake enters Jan. ranked 22nd in power points with a 5-1 record. With their first five games played on their home court, the Lady Lobos need to pick up as many wins as possible. Matchups with Apache Junction, Chinle, Thatcher, Blue Ridge and Holbrook could lift the them higher in the rankings, or drop them outside the top 24 midway through the month.
The Winslow Bulldogs sit 20th in the rankings at the beginning of the month with a 2-2 regular season mark. On Saturday they host Page, which could get them off to a good start. They will face tougher matchups with Valley Christian, Monument Valley and Holbrook in the first two weeks.
The Lady Bulldogs, with a 3-1, also host Page on Saturday. The Lady Sand Devils are figured by many to be the top team in Division III once again this year. Thus far they have only lost twice, both times to a very good Flagstaff team in the Pepsi Tournament. Winslow will play at Valley Christian, currently the top ranked team in Division III, and face Monument Valley, Mingus and Holbrook before playing in Page in a two-week stretch. Those six games could go a long way in determining the Lady Bulldogs’ final seeding for the state tournament, for which they will definitely qualify.
Joseph City enters the New Year ranked 16th in boys’ rankings and 21st in the girls’. Both teams will play at Grand Canyon on Tuesday, then host rival Mogollon on Thursday, Jan. 7. Like the Division III teams listed above, the Joseph City squads must finish in the top 24 in the final power point rankings in order to qualify for the post-season in Division V. The Wildcats are currently 4-2 in power point contests, and the Lady Wildcats are 3-3.
By Greg Perkins