By Stan Bindell
PINON—Hopi Junior High School beat Pinon, 67-57, in the boys’ basketball Northern Arizona Interscholastic Junior High School Conference championship game Feb. 1 to win the crown and qualify for state playoffs.
The Little Bruins improved 14-4. Hopi will compete in the Northern Arizona Athletic Association Conference this weekend before heading for a Payson tournament and then the state playoffs.
Hopi Junior High Coach Wallace Youvella Jr., said it was exciting to win the championship, but he expected it since his players had worked hard to get to this point.
Coach Youvella said the Little Bruins defense has been superb as they use a full-court press the entire game. “That’s our signature and the press causes a lot of turnovers. We feed off that,” he said. “We like to keep the game constantly moving.”
Coach Youvella said despite the Little Bruins always going up against taller teams, which they have learned how to box out so they do a good job off the backboards.
“Our players know that in order to win championships that they must rebound and play good defense,” he said. “Our starting five have played well during the playoffs. Our bench helped them prepare so every player deserves credit.”
Michael Schjang led the way against Pinon with 20 points, Stet Lomayestewa tossed in 17, Mikah Kewanimptewa netted a dozen, Harry Kisto added 10 and Delvin Huma scored eight.
Huma scored four points in the opening period as the Little Bruins grabbed a 13-9 edge. Schjang poured in eight and Kisto added four as Hopi jumped to a 32-22-halftime lead.
Lomayestewa fired in nine points, Kewanimptewa scored six and Schjang five as the Little Bruins zoomed to a 52-32 bulge after three quarters. Pinon made a bit of a comeback in the fourth period, but the Schjang netting five points for the quarter the Little Bruins held on for the victory.
In the semi-final round, Hopi Junior High edged Sanders, 62-58 and in the opening round Hopi beat Chinle, 53-39.