CHINLE, Ariz. - The Chinle Wildcats opened their season at the Wildcat Den, losing a closely contested game against the visiting Wingate Bears with a final score of 74-70.
The Lady Wildcats, however, opened their season on a winning note with a score of 58-47 over the Lady Bears.
"I am looking for these kids to make a huge step tonight" commented Al Martinez, head coach of the visiting Wingate team. "This is a signature game for us tonight. If we play well against Chinle, one of the better teams in this area, it will give us a lot of confidence for the rest of the year."
The Wildcats' Denzel Harvey quickly hit a bucket inside and Beau Natay hit the money ball. The Bears' Myron Alonzo and Sean Henry answered and tied the game and they were off to the races. The Wildcats went on a 9-0 run to lead 14 to 5. The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the opening quarter until it ended at 19 all.
Harvey and Natay took over in the second quarter for the Wildcats with Harvey scoring 11 points and Natay chipping in eight. Five Bears combined for 16 points to remain within striking distance as the host Wildcats pulled away to lead 44 to 35 as the half ended.
Wingate outscored Chinle 19 to 15 in the third quarter as Chinle held on to narrow lead 59-54.
"At the start of the second half we called off the press and went straight zone. It didn't work right away [since] Chinle came out and caught fire, but we got a couple of big threes and that changed the momentum. We forced a few turnovers and started making free throws," said Martinez.
In the fourth quarter, the lead changed three times before the Bears were able to pull away with the final four point victory.
"Our guards made the difference, we played a lot better defense and rebounded better and got a couple of breaks," said Martinez.
The Bears improved to 3-0.
The Wildcats dropped its first game of the season.
"Wingate did what they had to do to win the game," said Wildcat head coach Ned Curley Jr. "Our guys played hard and we were ready. In the second half, we needed to tighten up our defense and Wingate took advantage of that."
Four Bears scored in double figures, led by Markus Hosteen with 18 points followed by Brian Lee with 13 points. Nathan Longhair added 12 points and Sean Henry chipped in 11 markers.
The Wildcats were led by Denzel Harvey with a game high 24 points. Koyai Clauschee and Beau Natay had 18 and 17 points respectively.
The Lady Wildcats raced out to an 18-9 first quarter lead and never looked back as they were led by the scoring of Taneesha Watson and Tia Gorman. It was pretty much more of the same in the second quarter as the Lady Wildcats scored at will in the paint, with Nicole Tsosie doing most of the scoring. By halftime, the Lady Wildcats had a 33 to 20 lead.
The Lady Wildcats again went inside to Tsosie as she was unstoppable. Chinle outscored Wingate 12 to 11 to gain a 45-31 third quarter lead. The Lady Bears hit a couple of treys to cut into the lead in the fourth, but it was too little too late as the Lady Wildcats got more of their points from the charity stripe to seal the deal on their first win of the 2008-2009 season with a final score of 58-47.
"The girls came out and pushed the ball and executed and just followed the rules on offense and defense," said Darrel Clauschee, Chinle Lady Wildcats head coach. "It was a good win."
The Lady Wildcats were led by Nicole Tsosie with a game high 16 points. Taneesha Watson had 12 points and Tia Gorman rounded out the scoring with 10 points. The Lady Bears were led by Jean Benny with 13 points.