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The Navajo Lady Indians have been setting Class 2A girls’ basketball ablaze over the last two months and were hoping to end 2018 on a positive note against the number one ranked team in Class B — the Hammon Lady Warriors.
It almost happened for Navajo as the team led Hammon, 29-28, going into the fourth quarter. But as the fourth quarter moved closer to the final buzzer, the Lady Indians soon found themselves in a spot they’re not accustomed to and Hammon was able to slip past Navajo and win the game, 48-43.
Both teams had one loss on their records going into last Tuesday’s game. Hollis took down Navajo, 53-48, in the second round of the Best of the Southwest Tournament on Dec. 7, and Hammon was bested by Canute, 56-45, at the 5-County Conference tournament on Dec. 6.
For the first time in a long time, senior Kalee Cross was not at her best for Navajo, but a lot of that had to do with her getting into early foul trouble and not being able to play her game as aggressively as she normally would.
Even so, Cross led all Navajo scorers with nine points, and her offensive and defensive presence was a big reason that Navajo was able to build a, 23-15, lead over the Lady Warriors at the break.
Coach David Doss said his team’s defense was a little more lax in the second half and paved the way for a Hammon rally.
“We had an excellent defensive first half,” Doss said, “but we really struggled to get stops in the second half. We were also about even with Hammon in rebounds and turnovers, and I knew we needed to win both the rebounding and turnover battle to win the game.”
Both teams finished with 17 turnovers in the game, and for the most part, were even in about every facet of the game, but Hammon was the clear leader in one statistical category — free throw shots.
The Lady Warriors took 23 shots at the free-throw line and made 15. For Navajo, the Lady Indians only took two free throw shots the entire game which were both attempted and made by Cross.
Although Cross led the team, other players chipped in as well. Gabby Kille scored seven points and finished with four rebounds and four steals, Trinity Rohrer and Lilie Graham each scored six points off the bench, Kaitlin Martinez scored five points and finished with four assists and just one turnover, Abby Bates finished with five points, Kelly Taylor had three and Gracie Brooks finished with two points and seven rebounds.
The Lady Indians won’t play again in 2018 but will host Mangum at home on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. before heading off to the Hammon tournament on Jan. 10 where they will take on Binger-Oney in the first round at 1 p.m.
The boys’ basketball team suffered the same fate as the Lady Indians, falling to Hammon, 74-68, despite Kolton Hurst’s 24-point game.
The Indians kept the game close throughout and pulled within three, 30-27, when Lincoln Muller knocked down a three-point bucket in the second quarter, but every time Navajo got close, the Warriors made the necessary shots to widen the gap once more.
With Navajo trailing by seven in the third quarter, 38-31, Kaleb Gonzalez knocked down a three to pull Navajo within four. Navajo added three more points but Hammon was able to keep a seven-point lead over the Indians until Holdyn Mandrell sparked an 8-1 run with a layup in the third quarter that drew the two teams even.
Eventually, Hammon would begin pulling away from Navajo and hold the Indians off to win the game.
Hurst finished with 24 points, three rebounds, two assits and two steals while Gonzalez added 15 points and Muller added nine.
The Indians shot better from the field than Hammon and led the Warriors in every statistical category but one — rebounds. Navajo finished with 22 rebounds to Hammon’s 30. The Indians shot 55 percent from the field and 47 percent from beyond the arc.
The Indians will host Mangum at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.