GLENDALE, Ariz. — “It hasn’t hit me yet, I’m just so overwhelmed right now with emotions,” said Ryan Whitehorse, Page Lady Sand Devils head coach, shortly after winning Page’s fifth state title, a 41 - 34 triumph over the Lady Mustangs of Monument Valley.
Whitehorse, who is in his second year as coach of the Lady Sand Devils, continued, “I can’t believe that we came together finally and did what we needed to do. Last year was a big letdown, losing by one point, but finally, the pieces came together for us this year.”
The Valley Christian Lady Trojans claimed the 2017 Arizona 3A girls’ state championship title, over the Lady Sand Devils, 41 - 40.
Monument Valley Lady Mustangs scored first, sending the mostly Mustang crowd into a frenzy.
“The girls were able to see what this means to their community,” said Jason Franklin, the Monument Valley head coach. “With each win, it’s grown.”
Before the game, a crowd supported the team with a parade and police escort from Kayenta, Arizona.
The crowd wasn’t disappointed as the Lady Mustangs lead the opening quarter 11 to 8. Page outscored the Lady Mustangs 10 to 7 to tie the game, at intermission 18 all.
With sixteen minutes left to the crowning of this year’s girls state champion, 3,800 fans anticpated an exciting finish.
Page converted on three of four free throws to take a three point lead, 21 to 18, Monument Valley’s Jazlyn Lane’s three pointer tied the game at 21 all. There were two ties and six lead changes in the third quarter. Page led 31 to 30 as the quarter ended.
Jacey Salabiye’s put back in the paint gave the Lady Sand Devils the lead for good and ignited a 9 to 0 run. The run gave the Lady Sand Devils their biggest lead of the game, 39 to 30.
In the final quarter, the Lady Mustangs did not recover and were unable to score for six and a half minutes, until back to back buckets by Lane and Tayla Nez cut the lead to five points 39-34. Page then seal their win with two free throws with 30 seconds left in the game, final Page 41 Monument Valley 34.
‘We pride ourselves on defense,” Whitehorse said. “It takes a lot of hard work.”
“They played hard and played fast, it was our defense that set the tone,” Whitehorse continued. “It causes turnovers that usually leads to easy buckets, for us.”
Mikala Benally had a game high 17 points, Myka Taliman added 8 points for the Page Lady Sand Devils.
“It was not necessarily physical but it was mostly mental and emotional fatigue — I think we got worn down a little bit and it made it hard for us to make baskets,” said Monument Valley Lady Mustangs head coach Jason Franklin, referring to the fourth quarter scoring drought.
Tayla Nez scored 14 points for the Lady Mustangs and Jazlyn Lane added seven points.