Two 2008 basketball records were set on January 5 in Montezuma Creek. One was against the Tohatchi, NM Cougars (6-2), who play in the 3A ranks. Tohatchi is 25 miles north of Gallup, NM. This was the first time that the Tohatchi Cougars had been to Montezuma Creek. The other is the first time the Raiders reached 100 points in a game this season.
The game started innocently, as do most games on the Rez. After a steal, freshman Shawn Dickson broke away for an easy layup. The Cougars’ Shawn Smith answered with a three pointer to make it 3-2. That was last time Tohatchi had the lead.
All of a sudden, Whitehorse put on a suffocating half-court press and the Cougars guards began to throw away the ball. Coach Albert Jim called time out when the score was 8-3, to try to cool down the Raiders and set up a press breaker offense. The timeout didn’t help as the Raiders went on a five point run. Coach Jim called another timeout and this time he aired out his lungs.
Halfway through the quarter, Jordon Becenti stepped to the line, missed one and made the other. That was the only points the Cougars could muster as the roof fell in on the visitors. They scored only four points in the quarter, while the Raiders went on an 8-0 run to lead 16-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Before the game, Coach Jim was asked,”What do you know about the Whitehorse basketball team?”
“I know nothing,” he said, just like the sergeant in “Hogan Heros.”
“What are you going to do tonight to stop the Raiders?”
“We are going to score more points than they are and we are going to limit their scoring.”
Third question, “Who are some of your go to players?”
“It is different in each game, sometimes we have eight score and sometimes the whole team can score, this is the first time we have been out this way and hope to have Whitehorse come down to Tohatchi next season.”
Looking at the scoreboard at halftime, 39-8 in favor of the home team, the large following from Tohatchi couldn’t believe their eyes as they looked on helplessly.
Senior All-Stater Trevor Martin flexed his muscles and went on a 16-point scoring run in the second quarter. Whitehorse outscored Tohatchi 23-4 as the Cougars had a hard time bringing the ball across the center line. Speedy guard Shawn Dickson added ten points in that run.
“Our half-court press took them out of their offense,” explained second year Raider Coach Chad Shumway, “We were able to take advantage of it and we had some easy lay ups. Kenny Whitehair really played well tonight.”
The Cougars were held to four points in the second quarter and finally the buzzer sounded and it was 39-8, and the Cougar fans sat on their hands in disbelief.
However in the third quarter Cougars’ Jake Arviso began to answer the bell as he began to drive to the basket.
He was fouled five times but made only two out of six from the free throw line. To make matters worse, he was called for his fifth foul with six minutes left in the third quarter.
Teammate Kodi Lester did a little better, making five out of seven from the charity line. The Cougars began to shake off the cobwebs and began to make a run at the Raiders, scoring 23 points.
With 2:05 left in the third quarter, Trevor Martin fouled out with 18 points. Just before he fouled out, Martin had a break-away dunk which brought the home crowd to its feet.
According to Coach Shumway, Martin told him that he would be careful and not get the fifth foul. With Martin on the bench watching his teammates, Coach Shumway had cleared the bench by now and it was a great opportunity to watch the bench warmers play.
Viarin Silas, Mitch Premieux, Josiah Begay, Keliah Holly, Myron Johnson and Brian Johnson all played, but it was guard Byron Grant who answered the call and went to hit three 3-pointers and eight free throws and ended the night work with 28 points. Shawn Dickson had 24 and coming off the bench was Kenny Whitehair with 10 points.
In the fourth quarter the big question was, “Will the Raiders get to 100?”
With 2:12 to go, Shawn Dickson went in for a layup to hit 100, which brought the home crowd to its feet.
“We played a very talented team tonight and I hope they go far in their state playoffs this year. We met a firestorm in Utah and fell apart. It is a wake up call for us,” said Coach Albert Jim, who has been coaching at Tohatchi for ten years. His assistant JV Coach is Larry Smiley.
Tohatchi fought hard and never gave up and scored 25 points in the last quarter, led by three players. Coming off the bench were Jake Becenti with 17, Dwight Smith with 17 and Kodi Leslie chipped in 9 points. The Cougars (6-3) are on a four game road trip, stopping in Farmington this week to play Navajo Prep, a team that they lost to in the beginning of the season.
Whitehorse (11-1) is also on the road to Aztec, NM for another tournament, playing Cortez in the first round.
Albuquerque Sandia Prep, a powerhouse team, is the team to beat in that tournament.