The 10th-seeded Shiprock boys didn’t get to play their opening-round game of the boys Class 3A state basketball tournament at home. So the Chieftains brought their home crowd with them to Albuquerque.
Feeding off that energy, Shiprock (20-10) finished the game strong, topping the seventh-seeded Sandia Prep Sundevils in front of a near-capacity crowd at Prep, 55-50.
“Every game, no matter how far away, people come out here to see us and we try and give them a show,” junior Shiprock guard Deron Johnson said of the home court-like advantage that his team experienced.
“It just means a lot that they come from Shiprock to Albuquerque, and the only things we can do to thank them are to win and never give up.”
Hiram Gleason scored 19 points – including 8-of-9 free-throw attempts – for the Chieftains, while Johnson and Justin Begay chipped in 13 points apiece for a Shiprock team that was undersized, but was able to penetrate the basketball.
“We had to go at their bigs as much as possible,” Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty said. “We knew that playing inside was their game, too, so we just worked, and worked and worked to matchup.”
It started out as a defensive battle, with just 11 total points scored in the first quarter. But the scoring opened up in the second.
Sandia Prep (13-15) used an 11-2 run to take a 17-9 lead with 4:33 left in the half. Shiprock then answered with a 10-2 run to draw within four going into the break, 25-21.
Shiprock then trailed for much of the second half, but took the lead with 5:20 remaining after Gleason was fouled behind the arc. He proceeded to hit all three free throws, giving the Chieftains a 44-43 advantage, a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Shiprock moves on to a Wednesday quarterfinal at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho against the second-seeded St. Michael’s Horsemen, who routed No. 15 Robertson 62-39.
To advance further, Deron Johnson says it’s a simple formula: “It’s just defense, teamwork and boxing out.”
– Philip A. Lopez
NO. 1 HOPE CHRISTIAN 91, NO. 16 RATON 48: At Hope Christian, Zach Williams scored 14 points and the defending classification champion Huskies (23-3) breezed in their first-round pairing.
The Huskies advanced to a 1:15 p.m. Wednesday quarterfinal at Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho against No. 9 Portales, a 54-49 winner over No. 8 Wingate.
Brandon Zabala scored 13 points and hit three of Hope’s seven 3-pointers. The Huskies led 30-8 after one quarter, and 12 Hope players got into the scorebook.
Rashaan Craig scored 25 points to lead Raton (8-16).