Thousands of Navajos packed the Glendale Arena to cheer their girls from either Winslow or Ganado. The lights shined bright as the music and crowd went wild, giving the players a taste of the modern ball-court gladiator spectacle.
The Bulldogs started off with an impressive game, but then once that slipped, the crowd began to scream louder and louder for Ganado; affecting the mood of Winslow's game.
The Ganado Lady Hornets claimed the Arizona State 3A Conference Championship with a win over the Winslow Lady Bulldogs 63 - 52 at Glendale Arena on Saturday. The nearly all Navajo crowd went into a celebrating frenzy at the end, as it became certain that their homeland team from Ganado won. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley was courtside and came out to congratulate the girls.
The Lady Bulldogs finished their season with an impressive 28- 4 record. Ganado finished 29-4. The two teams split decisions in the regular season. Winslow won the 3A North Region in the third game between the pair. Ganado evened the series with the state championship win.
The Lady Hornets started strong and led 18-13 after the first period then Ganado turned it around into a steady lead that held strong until the end. The Ganado girls enjoyed a good second quarter as well and had a double digit 39-26 lead at the intermission. The Lady Bulldogs cut the lead back to single digits in the third quarter as Ganado took a 47-40 advantage into the final quarter.
Gabrielle Curtis of Ganado led all scorers, earning as many points as her number - 24. She played an outstanding game and was all over the place, keeping Bencita Johnson busy. Both girls were well matched, but it was the combined force of each team that proved who would take home the title. Overall, the Bulldogs were off their game and missed too many shots to contend with Ganado's constant defense and shooting accuracy.
Leandra Mark with 19 points and Leandra Lynch with 11 were also in double figures for the Lady Hornets.
Johnson led Winslow with 19 points. Samantha Sam was also in double figures with 10 points.
Johnson, Sam and Elisha Billie were all named to the All Tournament Team from Winslow. Curtis, Mark and Lynch were all named to the elite squad from Ganado
Ganado: Gabrielle Curtis 24, Leandra Mark 19, Leandra Lynch 11, Laura Dineyazhe 4 and Shandin West 5
Winslow: Bencita Johnson 19, Elisha Billie 9, Kourtney Shirley 8, Samantha Sam 10 and Chanel Renfro 6.