Shock, Awe As Reservation Basketball Fans Fill Stands

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The Class 3A North region, made up of Northern Arizona Reservation schools where basketball reigns supreme, has produced three of the four teams still in the hunt for the Arizona state girls championship.

North No. 1 seed Monument Valley will take on North No. 4 Tuba City at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 24 in Glendale Arena. At 7 p.m., also Feb. 24 in Glendale, North runner-up Ganado plays East region champion Snowflake. The final four survivors meet at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 for the state championship.

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Fans are known to arrive in droves for basketball games involving Northern Arizona reservation teams.

North's three-seed, Winslow, was beaten by Snowflake 54-40 in the second round.

Snowflake's run through the tournament has been fueled by Mysti Caldwell who has drawn raves from Lady Longhorn coach Rory Huff for being one of the finest basketball players to ever play for an Arizona school.

The North's three state semifinalists are substantial proof that reservation towns continue to be hot beds of basketball as they have been since the 1950s.

Monument Valley, Tuba City and Ganado could also be ghost towns during the state tournament as fans from all three towns are certain to flock to Glendale Arena to cheer on their much beloved teams.

Coaches who have never had the opportunity to play a reservation team, or fans who have not taken in a game, are usually left in shock and awe after seeing the size of turnouts that fill stands to overflowing.

You can bet the family farm that crowds for the 3A games will be much larger than even those for the 4A and 5A state championships.

The 3A boys title chase

In the battle for the boys 3A state championship, two teams representing the North region are still alive. Winslow, the north champion, plays West region champion Fountain Hills at 1:15 p.m. Feb. 24 in Glendale.

Chinle, the North's No. 3 seed, takes on South champion and state No. 1 ranked Chandler Seton Catholic at 8:45 p.m. The two semifinal winners will be 8 p.m. Feb. 25 for the state championship.

Seton Catholic, a state title favorite, was severely tested Feb. 17 in an opening round 62-55 loss to the Payson Longhorns.

Payson entered as the East region's fourth seed but gave Seton all the fight it could handle during a furious second half comeback that came up just short.

In other state games involving East teams, region champion Holbrook was beaten by Chinle, 63-58 in the quarterfinals.

Alchesay, the East region runner-up, was eliminated in the quarterfinals by an 86-63 loss to Fountain Hills.

The East's third seed, Round Valley, lost an opening round game, 77-71, to Coolidge.

With no team in the final four, the 2005-2006 season wasn't exactly a banner campaign for the East region.

If there is a Rim Country connection to the semifinals, it might be with Fountain Hills. The FH coach is former Payson High School teacher and coach Cain Jagodzinski who will be looking for his second successive state title. In searching for greener coaching pastures, Jagodzinski resigned at PHS five years ago and moved to FH. Also on the FH roster is former PHS student and Longhorn basketball player Alex Bunk, a junior.

Bunk transferred to Fountain Hills following a freshman season in which he helped lead the Horns to an undefeated season.

He continues to be close friends with many of the Longhorn varsity players.

Last chance sign-up

A final Little League registration, along with team tryouts, will begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 25 on the Rumsey South multipurpose field.

The fee is $60 for the first child in a family and $55 for each additional sibling. Parents will also be asked to volunteer in some form during the 2006 season.

Tryouts are mandatory for players 9 years of age and older hoping to play in the majors division.

Team practices will begin after the tryouts and the season tip off in April.

Call Linda Schreur at (928) 472-9331 for more information.

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