KIRTLAND, N.M. - The Monument Valley Mustangs of Kayenta won the 2007 Webb-Toyota Kirtland Central Basin basketball tournament championship game over the talented Whitehorse Raiders of Whitehorse, Utah with a final score of 71 to 64. The third place trophy was claimed by the Shiprock Chieftains of Shiprock, NM with a 48 - 45 win over Ignacio. The West Las Vegas Dons defeated the host Kirtland Central Broncos 75 - 36, in the consolation game, and the Bloomfield Bobcats were winners over Crownpoint Eagles, 46 - 40 for seventh place.
The Raiders, coming off a fourth place finish in the 2007 Utah 1A championships, stormed out to a 6 - 0 advantage with baskets by Bryon Grant, Lance Vigil and Trevor Martin. The Raiders were prepared to match up with the Mustangs, who answered back with the tournament MVP Reggie Todachine's two buckets and free throws by Josephe Seaton. The quarter ended with the Raiders leading 21 - 14.
The Raiders open the second quarter, with a trey from Grant and a lay in by Keliah Holly giving the Raiders their biggest lead of the game at 26 - 14, with ten minutes left in the half. Then the Mustangs, went on 10 - 7 spurt with scoring from Todachine, Seaton, Marvin Russell and Ryan Young. Right before the half ended, the Mustangs scored again, including a bucket from Todachine with 2.5 seconds remaining and a lead of 32 - 31.
"With our kids, we always stress we don't need to push the panic button, [we need to] maintain our composure and execute on offense, and play defense" said Mustang's head coach Jacob Holiday. "I thought the biggest turning point in this game is that we defensively clamp down on their guards (Grant and Martin). Then the momentum swung in our favor and we were able to take a one point lead into the halftime," he added.
Todachine contributed 8 points in the first half toward his game total 17 points for the Mustangs, and Grant had 12 points of his game high 22 points in the first half.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Seaton was fouled and made 3 of 3 from the charity strip, giving the Mustangs the lead. Grant and Holly responded for the Raiders. Both teams matched bucket for bucket. The lead changed seven times and the score was tied at 47 all. The Raiders had points from five players, including freshman Shaun Dickson, while Monument Valley had contributions from seven different Mustangs. The third period ended with the score of 52 - 47.
The Raider's Holly hit a three pointer to start the fourth quarter and the Mustangs' answered with Todachine dominating the boards and scoring. Russell added a trey to put the game out of reach for the Mustangs. With 1:54 remaining and a 67 - 59 score, Dickson continued to play a major role, hustling and scoring bringing the Raiders back within 3 points. Todachine returned to the line after a foul with 26 seconds left, making 2 of 2, for a final score of 71 - 64 and etching a mark in the win column for the Mustangs and a 3 - 0 trip for the tournament.
Playing defensively played a major role in the win for the Mustangs. "We played better team defense and we had some key players step up. I thought Marvin Russell came off the bench and gave us a very needed spark, by hitting two three pointers in that third and fourth period," said Holiday.
Todachine had 17 points to lead the Mustangs, Seaton contributed 12 points and Young had a total of 11 points for the Mustangs. Bryon Grant had a game high 22 points for the Raiders and Shaun Dickson added 14 points.
To advance to the tournament championship game, the Mustangs got by the West Las Vegas Dons in the opening round with a score of 66 to 57. "We played a great ... team, well coached," said Holiday. The Mustangs' Ryan Young paced the win with 22 points, Reggie Todachine and Josephe Seaton, added 16 and 11 points, respectively. The Dons were led by Kenny Lucero with a game 24 points and Branden Encinias added 15 points.
In the semifinal game, the Mustangs earned a hard-fought 64 - 63 win over the Shiprock Chieftains. "We played a very motived and inspired Shiprock team. [They] took us to the limits. They were up by 10, with two minutes to go in the game and we found a way, we dug deep and found a way to win the game by one point," Holiday said.
Reggie Todachine led all scores with a game high 28 points, followed by Ryan Young with 12 and Everett Greyeyes added 11 points, for the Mustangs. The Chieftains' Devin Bidtah had 21 points and Harold Smith and Mychal Garnenez had 11 points.
The Mustangs' next tournament action will be the Page NGS Tournament when they are matched up with Phoenix Cortez Dec. 13.
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