Payson — Hopi Junior High School won three of four games to place fourth out of 15 teams at the Copper State boys basketball tournament Feb. 14-16 in Payson.
Hopi finished the season with a 17-8 mark.
Paul Huma was named to the all-tournament team, which was prestigious considering only five players were named to the all-star squad.
Hopi Junior High Coach Wallace Youvella Jr. said the Little Bruins played really well.
“We lived up to our expectations by making it to the final four,” he said. “Our offense played real well until the last game when we were forced into a half court game because two of our players were injured.”
Matt Lamson and Paul Huma both went down with ankle injuries. They continued to play, but they weren’t at full strength.
“We played well, but not as well as we wanted,” Coach Youvella said.
Coach Youvella said Andrew Talayumtptewa and Michael Lomatewama were the leaders on defense and rebounding.
Hopi Junior High played mostly zones, but played some man-to-man and used full court pressure until the last game.
Hopi Junior High was able to outrebound its opponents throughout the tournament.
Coach Youvella said Huma played outstanding, but he said other Little Bruins played well. Talayumptewa was named Player of the Game of one game. Coach Youvella also credited Honie, Lamson and Talayumptewa with playing solid games.
Hopi Junior High will lose 10 of its 15 players to junior high graduation.
“Those 10 will help the high school if they stay together and keep that chemistry. They are extremely quick,” he said. “We’ll have a strong nucleus next year and I expect us to compete for championships again.”
Coach Youvella said Earl Shelton, Levon Nahpi and Crook Roper will be the team leaders next year.
“I want to thank the parents and fans for their support,” he said.
Coach Youvella said the players went through a lot this year when Thomas Vicente died in a car crash.
“He will be badly missed. He was a great student and an even better friend. He was a good kid and a good basketball player. We all wore black bands on our arms for him,” Coach Youvella said.
Hopi Junior High beat Chooshgai Junior High from Tohathchi, N.M., 53-29, in the opening round. Andrew Talayumptewa led Hopi with nine points, Matt Lamson tossed in eight, Lujan Honie and Levon Nahpi netted seven apiece, Michael Lomatewama and Mauricio Mendoza added a half dozen each, Paul Huma scored four and Jaynes Saufkie and Roper Crook had three apiece.
Dwight Smith and Kodi Leslie led Chooshgai with nine points each.
Talayumtpewa netted five points in the first half as the Little Bruins slowly built a 26-17 edge by halftime.
Hopi Junior High walloped the Williams Falcons, 62-30, in the second round.
Huma topped the Little Bruins with 16 points, Honie poured in a dozen, Lomatewama fired in 10 points, Saufkie scored a half dozen, Talayumptewa and Nahpi netted four each and Mendoza had a deuce.
Able Valdez led Williams with 13 and Matthew Verser netted nine for the Falcons.
Honie poured in six points in the first quarter as Hopi grabbed a 10-6 edge. Huma fired in nine and Lomatewama added a half dozen as Hopi zoomed to a 30-14 bulge.
Huma scored four points in the third quarter as the Little Bruins took a 46-24 cushion. Crook tossed in six points and Saufkie four in the final period as Hopi coasted to the victory.
In the third round, Hopi Junior High beat John F. Kennedy Junior High School from Whiteriver, 55-33. Huma paced the Little Bruins with 17, Talayumptewa tossed in a dozen, Honie chipped in with eight, Lomatewama netted a half dozen, Orlando Outah and Xaveir Chee scored four apiece, and Nahpi and Saufkie scored two each.
Jordan James led the Whiteriver team with 17 points.
Huma poured in 10 points and Lomatewama added a half dozen in the opening quarter as Hopi
Junior High jumped to a 20-13 edge. Huma and Outah scored four each in the second stanza as the Little Bruins zoomed to a 34-18 halftime cushion.
Talayumptewa tossed in a half dozen points in the third quarter as Hopi stayed ahead 44-28. Honie and Talayumptewa scored four each in the final period as the Little Bruins coasted to the victory.
In the semi-final game, traditional power Hohokam Junior High from Tucson edged Hopi, 33-28.
Huma paced Hopi Junior High with 11, Lamson netted nine, Lomatewama tossed in four, Talayumptewa and Honie scored a deuce each.
Mark Cocio led Hohokam with 13, Steven Ochoa tossed in eight, Ryan Quillen netted seven, Jessie Smiley scored three and Juan Garista added a deuce.
Ochoa tossed in four and Smiley added three in the first quarter as the Hawks grabbed a 9-4 edge. Lomatewama scored all four Hopi points in the first quarter.
Lamson countered with eight points in the second stanza as Hopi pulled within 20-17 at halftime. Cocio netted six points on two treys as Hohokam led 29-22 going to the final quarter.
Huma scored all six of Hopi’s points in the fourth period as the Little Bruins kept the game close, but couldn’t pull it out.