By Greg Perkins
The Lady Roadrunners came away from the 61 team Chandler Prep Tournament with the championship of the top level bracket on Dec. 31. The large tournament consisting of four separate 16 team brackets varying in levels of competition utilized seven different gyms. Holbrook competed in the platinum bracket, which consisted of several highly ranked 3A teams, many of which will definitely be in the final 3A state tournament bracket.
Holbrook went 5-0 at the tournament with wins over Chandler Prep, American Leadership Academy, Monument Valley, Chinle, and finally Ganado in the title game. “Anytime you can beat just one quality team from the north region it is an accomplishment. For these ladies to go through three good north region teams in a row really is a tribute to their effort and their abilities,” stated Coach Greg Perkins.
The Lady Birds opened the tournament on Dec. 28, against what is currently the third ranked 2A team and tournament host Chandler Prep. The Titans played well in the early moments, but by the end of the first period Holbrook held a 23-6 advantage. Holbrook went on to win the game 69-40. Elena Smith scorched the nets from distance nailing six three-point shots to lead the team in scoring with 18 points. Tyanna Johnson added 17; Tyler Pacheco, 11; Matehya Aberle, 7; Madison Chappell, 6; Dakota Dick, 4; Desirae Bain, 4; and Twyla Clark helped with 2. Holbrook shot well as a team finishing with 12 three-point buckets.
Later that evening Holbrook met up with American Leadership Academy and came out on top in a big way with a 78-29 final outcome. Chappell paced the team in the first, then Aberle came to life in the second where she netted 10 of her game high 21 points.
“It was good to see Matehya gain some confidence in her abilities in this game. She played well,” said Perkins. Chappell added 19; Dick, 9; Smith, 7; Bain, 6; Clark, 4; Megan Cummings, 4; Rayanna Wauneka, 4; Pacheco, 2; and Tristen Ambrose had 2.
In the quarterfinal round of bracket play on Dec. 29, Holbrook met up with Monument Valley. Both teams were sluggish throughout the contest, but Holbrook turned a 16-12 halftime edge into a 41-29 win. Chappell led the Birds with 15; Smith and Dick each had 7; Wauneka, 4; Pacheco, 3; Ambrose, 2; and Aberle helped with 2.
Playing the nightcap game, Holbrook met up with Chinle in the semifinal round. This game went back and forth from the beginning. Holbrook led 18-14 after the first and held a 26-23 half time margin. Chinle overtook Holbrook with a 21-14 third quarter effort, but in the fourth Holbrook flipped the tables outscoring the Wildcats by the same 21-14 margin to advance to the championship game with a 63-59 final win.
“In the final few minutes each team had a six point lead evaporate in moments. The game was close throughout with both teams playing fairly well on the defensive end and hitting big shots when needed. I thought Madison did a great job on defense against one of the better post players we have seen. Also Elena struggled through the first three and a half quarters, but regrouped nicely in the final four minutes to help us get the win. Tyler also had three big treys for us in the win. Twyla and Dakota both did their parts as well as Tyanna who came up with some key baskets. Rayanna scored six when we needed them and made a key pass at the end. Matehya got some big boards for us as well. Overall this was a pretty solid team win,” reported Coach Perkins.
Chappell finished with 20 points. Pacheco added 9; Smith, 8; Johnson, 7; Wauneka, 6; Clark, 5; Dick, 5; Aberle, 2; and Ambrose had one free throw. Holbrook finished with eight three-point shots, three of those from Pacheco.
In the championship game on Saturday afternoon Holbrook met up with Ganado, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the 3A rankings. The Hornets survived a scare from No. 3 Valley Christian in the other semifinal game getting past them by two points. Both teams played hard defensively in the title game, which was won by Holbrook 45-42.
“We know each other fairly well, and play similar styles. Both teams played great defense for much of the game and finding scoring opportunities was tough on both ends of the floor,” said Perkins.
The Hornets led 13-12 at the end of the first, but in the second Holbrook outscored the top ranked team 18-9, which proved to be the pivotal period. The Hornets chipped three points off the lead in the third, then pulled ahead by one in the fourth period before Holbrook managed to regain the lead and hold on for the three point win.
“We got the job done. It was good for the girls to realize what it takes to win close games against the caliber of teams we know we will see in the state tournament regardless of where we all end up being ranked. Valley Christian, Ganado, Chinle, and Monument Valley, along with several others including Winslow and Page, will be tough outs to get in the state tournament for anyone. Hopefully we can be a tough team to get out as well.”
In the title game Holbrook was led by Smith and Chappell, each with 11 points. Johnson added 6; Aberle, 5; Dick, 4; Ambrose, Clark, Pacheco and Wauneka each netted 2 in the win.
Chappell was named the tournament MVP. Smith and Dick were both selected to the all tournament team.
With that tournament Holbrook stands at 14-2 overall heading into regular season action. They are 6-0 in power point contests leaving them ranked No. 2, just behind No. 1 Ganado in the rankings at the beginning of the second half of the season.
Holbrook begins January with a three game road trip. On Jan. 5, they travel to Show Low. Saturday, Jan. 6, is a long trip to face a very good Page team. Then on Jan. 9, Holbrook will play in Snowflake. Holbrook’s first home game in January will be tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 11) when they host Winslow.