POLACCA -- Gabrielle Curtis fired in 24 points as Ganado beat Hopi, 72-40, in girls high school basketball action Jan. 24.
Ganado improved to 17-4 overall and 9-1 in the 3A North. Hopi fell to 6-14 overall and remained winless in nine games in the 3A North.
Curtis had plenty of help as Lana Dineyazhe poured in 18, Rachelle Yazzie and Marlinda Dawn netted six points each, Leandra Lynch and Shanda Benally tossed in five points apiece, Tiffany Curley chipped in with three points, Violet Tsosie and Leandra Mark had a deuce each and Shandin West hit a foul shot.
Deidra Jones paced Hopi with 18 markers, Marleita Burbank tossed in a dozen points, Rozanna Nasafotie scored six points and Tracy Honani added four.
Hopi led 16-15 after the first period. Burbank poured in eight points during the quarter to give the Lady Bruins the edge. Curtis tossed in six points for Ganado to keep the Lady Hornets close.
Hopi started out the second period with a 6-2 spurt. Jones hit two foul shots, Burbank and Nasasoftie sank layups as the Lady Bruins led 22-17 with 5:30 to go in the half.
This is when the 24-point explosion occurred: Curtis started the rally with a three point play, Dineyazhe nailed a trey, Curtis sank a layup and rebound shot, Benally hit a short jumper, Curtis hit two short jumpers, Dineyazhe sank a layup, Benally nailed a trey, West sank a foul shot and Dann hit a trey as Ganado led at halftime 41-22.
The closest Hopi would come in the third quarter was 18 points when Jones sank a layup and hit a foul shot and Honani hit a layup as the Lady Bruins pulled within 49-31. Ganado closed the third quarter with six points on two layups by Dineyazhe and one by Curtis as the Lady Hornets led 55-31.
Hopi would never get closer than 22 points after that.
Ganado Coach Nate Brady said the Lady Hornets started slow, but picked up their momentum when they went to full court defensive pressure.
"It kicked in the turnovers. If we can play pressure defense, then we get into our rhythm," he said.
Coach Brady said the Lady Hornets offense needs a lot of work as they need to learn patience.
"We weren't as patient as we should have been. Some of our passes were soft and we weren't setting proper screens," he said. "Patience is a gift and these ballplayers will develop it over time."
Coach Brady said Ganado has ten offenses ready to use against the oppositions' zone or man-to-man defenses. He said they just need to be patient to find the right offense against the opposing defensive strategy.
Coach Brady said the Lady Hornets played good pressure defense and rebounded well from the second quarter on. He said Curtis, who is better known for her offense, is also an excellent defensive player.
"Her hustle allowed our girls to get the loose ball,' he said.
Coach Brady said Ganado's rebounding was fair.
"We're not big, so we need to work on boxing out and finding the ball," he said.
Coach Brady said sophomores Shandin West and Leandra Mark led the Lady Hornets in rebounding. None of the starting five for Ganado are seniors so this team can be expected to be strong for a couple years.
Ganado has only one loss in conference along with Monument Valley and Tuba City. Winslow has three losses, but Coach Brady said Winslow cannot be counted out of the hunt.
"Our goal is to finish first, or not worst than fourth in conference," he said.
The top four teams in conference only have to play one game in regionals to earn a state playoff.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)