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Sand Devils Punch Their Ticket to Glendale

Sand Devils Punch Their Ticket to Glendale
February 22
11:18 2016

A familiar foe stood between the Lady Sand Devils and the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Head Coach Justin Smith

Head Coach Justin Smith

For the fourth time this season and for the tenth time in two years, Page took on Tuba City, this time in the second round of the division three state tournament. The game was held at the Nash Center on the campus of Monument Valley High School and like the previous nine matchups against the Warriors, the Sand Devils came away victorious.

The Warriors did not make it easy however, as they gave Page all they could handle. Tuba City, the 15-seed, led the second-seeded Sand Devils by three after a back and forth third quarter and the game stayed tight into the final seconds.

Senior Ashley Dempsey would give the Sand Devils the lead for good after with a putback layup with 25 seconds remaining in the game. The senior sealed the nail-biting 50-48 victory by grabbing the rebound off of Autumn Byjoe’s missed layup attempt. Tuba City, surprisingly, elected not to foul and send the Sand Devils to the free-throw line. Instead, freshman point guard Myka Taliman was able to dribble out the remaining 9.5 seconds and Page secured a spot in the state quarterfinal game for the 13th straight year.

Dempsey was clutch down the stretch, scoring nine of her fourteen points in the fourth quarter. Serving as the catalyst in the win, Dempsey said she wasn’t going to let her senior season end with a second round defeat,

“I told my team that we’re not going to lose this game and I just felt the confidence overwhelm me. I was playing for the girl next to me, you know I want to finish strong as a senior so I was focused and confident and I knew every shot that I took was going to go in.”

Dempsey would finish with fourteen points and nine rebounds and was awarded with the game ball after the game.

Awaiting the Sand Devils in the quarterfinals is yet another Section I team, as seventh-seeded Window Rock advanced to the final eight with a 66-55 win over the eight seed, Snowflake. Page defeated the Fighting Scouts on January 12th 66-33 in their only meeting of the season.

Head Coach Justin Smith said that one advantage his team has over opponents is that a majority of the team has state tournament experience,

Ashley Dempsey Poses with the Game Ball

Ashley Dempsey Poses with the Game Ball

“I mentioned to the girls after the game that regardless of who we play, they haven’t been there before. We have. We have to play like we have.”

Smith said that defense will be the focus of his teams practices this week and that right now he’s just worried about getting his team ready to go,

“I’m not even worried about what Window Rock does right now, we need to worry about what we need to do better.”

The quarterfinal game between the Sand Devils and Fighting Scouts will be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Gila River Arena in Glendale. The game will be broadcast live on 1340 AM KPGE and online at https://network1sports.com/station/kpge

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