Relentless from opening tip to final buzzer, Shiprock put West Las Vegas’ boys’ basketball team on its collective heels Monday evening en route to a 79-54 triumph in the first round of the Stu Clark Tournament.
Showing depth and discipline along with its usual tough and scrappy play, Shiprock began to blow the game open in the third quarter, outgunning the Dons 32-16 in the period.
The Chieftains had led a mere 30-29 at intermission.
West’s most promising run came midway through the first quarter. Ryan Aragon — sharp in the Dons’ recent home win over Ruidoso — got it going with a basket. Then Ambrosio Castellano dished to Corey Archibeque for a lay-in. And then Jordan Lopez slashed through the lane to make it 10-9 West, capping the 6-0 spurt.
Shiprock’s Verlyn Begay ended the run with a bucket, and Colby Nahkai scored twice to begin a 19-point night. The Chieftains led 15-12 through one quarter.
Lopez scored eight of his team-high 17 points — including a gliding lay-in and later an old-fashioned three-point play — in the second quarter. Shiprock saw its lead dwindle to a single point by halftime.
Nahkai sank a three-pointer amid a 15-5 Shiprock run to open the third period. His back-to-back buckets gave the Chieftains a 51-38 advantage. And Wesley Ben and Robert Lapahie both converted three-point plays in the last minute of the quarter to push the margin to 62-45.
Worsening matters for West was poor free-throw shooting down the stretch.
Ben finished an 8-0 Shiprock run with a layup to make it 77-47. Lopez broke the WLV drought with a three, and Archibeque added a couple of baskets to narrow the final margin.
Unofficial scoring, Shiprock: Nahkai, 19; Ben, 11; Lapahie, 10; Jaron Shorty, 10; Nicholas Begay, 8; Verlyn Begay, 7; Dustin Johns, 7; Daron Shorty, 4; Deion Benally, 3.
West Las Vegas: Lopez, 17; Archibeque, 11; Tomas Benavidez, 9; Anthony Madrid, 8; Martin Blea, 4; Castellano, 4; Aragon, 2.