With the Flagstaff girls receiving a bye to start the annual Pepsi Holiday tournament and the event at a new location away from Flagstaff High, the Eagles boys basketball team recovered from a slow start to represent the school and roll the Ganado Hornets, 70-46, on Thursday.
Playing the nightcap in the Sinagua Middle School main gym, the 4A Conference Eagles scored just four points in the opening quarter but got the machine going with a 26-point second that had the team ahead 30-20 at halftime. Flagstaff's Troy Yazzie, after going scoreless in the first quarter, also came alive before the break, hitting 12 of his 20 points in the second stanza.
"We stuck together even though we started slow. You know, late game, sitting around all day," said Eagles head coach Nick Walton. "... I was happy that we got the motor going and started shooting the ball well."
Out of the break, Flagstaff used a 7-0 outburst full of ball movement and hustle plays to take a solid 39-25 lead that grew to 48-31 by the end of the third quarter.
Marcus Crowther missed a shot but grabbed his own rebound and quickly dumped the ball off to Andrew Harbottle for an easy hoop to spark the early third-quarter surge. On the next trip down the court, Harbottle found Mike Becenti for a 3-pointer to make it 37-25.
Flagstaff's Luke Thompson recorded 11 points for the Eagles, who scored 22 points in the fourth quarter while keeping the ball moving. Yazzie dished the ball off to Crowther and Crowther gave it right back for a layup and the 54-33 lead. After that, the reserves went to work, closing out the game in the final five minutes after playing solid all night.
"Even if teams play man on us, we want to keep them honest, so we've been trying hard to move the ball, get cuts and get stuff at the rim as much as we can," Walton said, noting that 3A Ganado played mostly a zone against his team.
Yazzie delighted the crowd with a behind-the-back move while driving for a layup, pushing his team's advantage out to 44-27 toward the end of the third.
Flagstaff will meet the 5A Sunrise Mountain Mustangs today at 8:30 p.m. at Sinagua looking to make a trip into the semifinals.
The Flagstaff girls take the court at 7 p.m. today and will face 3A Snowflake at Sinagua, also looking to make the semis.
"Everybody is contributing right now and that's how it's been the last few games, and that's something I have been preaching since the beginning of the season because we have so many guys who can contribute," Walton said. "It's nice to have guys who can come in and nothing lets up. Everybody who steps on the court works hard and we need that down the stretch, especially as we play so many games in a row. We have got to have lots of guys who can give lots of minutes."