POLACCA, Arizona — Emmett Navakuku fired in a career high 20 points, including the winning free throws with 1.5 seconds left, as Hopi High overcame a brilliant 43-point effort by Theus Begay and edged Red Mesa, 73-71, Wednesday night, December 20, in boys basketball action.
The Bruins improved to 4-10 overall and 2-0 in the 2A North Conference while the Redskins fell to 6-4 and 0-2 in the 2A North. Begay hit nine treys during the night including five in the third and three in the fourth quarter. But he didn’t have much help from his teammates as only one other player scored more than eight points. Red Mesa’s Jackson Brossy notched 12.
Hopi had five players with eight points or more. Francisco Mata tossed in 13, Dellen Lomayestewa added 11 and Logan Koopee and Davin Leslie scored eight apiece.
This game had a lot of twists and turns, but the final 22 seconds had everybody on the edge of their seats. Lomayestewa hit a rebound shot with 22 seconds left to give the Bruins a 72-69 edge.
Everyone knew Red Mesa wanted Begay to shoot a three to tie it, but Hopi had him covered so another Redskin took the three and missed. Red Mesa grabbed the rebound and passed it back out to Begay who sank the tying three with three seconds left in the game.
Hopi went to take the ball out under Red Mesa’s basket and set a screen, unseen by one of the Red Mesa players, who inadvertently bulled Navakuku right to the ground. The foul was called and Navakuku calmly went to the line and sank the two winning free throws.
Duran Begay hit a jumper that would have tied the score and sent the game into overtime, but the referee waved it off, saying the shot wasn’t airborne until after the clock ran out.
Coach Lambert credited his assistant coaches, Glenn Haven and Garlyn Navakuku, for reminding him to switch defenses when something wasn’t working.
“Against Winslow, we stayed with a man-to-man defense all night — and that was a mistake,” he said.
“But give Red Mesa credit. They came in scratching and clawing like the third monkey on Noah’s gang plank,” he said. “It worked out for us in the end. It would have made their season if they had knocked us off on our home court, but the break finally went our way. I keep telling our players that if we keep working hard that good things will happen.