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Top-seeded Lady Sand Devils upset at sectional tourney

Modified: Tuesday, Feb 11th, 2014

Ember Sloan, shown in a game earlier this month, played well down the stretch in the Sand Devils' loss to Tuba City.
The Page High girls basketball team picked a bad time to lose its first game against a Section 1 opponent this season, as they were eliminated in the opening round of the sectional tournament, 54-50, by Tuba City.

The Lady Sand Devils were 13-0 during the regular season against section foes and were the top seed in the tournament, which got underway in Chinle on Feb. 11.

The fourth-seeded Warriors will play #3 Window Rock for the section championship Feb. 15. The Fighting Scouts beat #2 Many Farms.

Tuba City’s Tate Tsingine hit all six of her free throws in the closing moments of the game to counter the Devils’ Ember Sloan, who hit a pair of three-pointers and both her free throws down the stretch.

Page trailed 48-42 when coach Justin Smith called a timeout near the two-minute mark of the game. Sloan—who led the team this season in points, rebounds and assists—had just endured a difficult couple of minutes, missing a three and turning the ball over twice as the Devils struggled to keep pace in a close game.

After the timeout, however, the junior guard hit a three to halve the deficit. Tsingine countered with a pair of free throws.

Sloan nailed another three to pull Page within 50-48. The Devils’ press forced a turnover but they were unable to capitalize. Tuba City rebounded a missed three by Natasha Henry and Tsingine was fouled. She hit both ends of the one and one.

Sloan was fouled after grabbing a missed shot by teammate Autumn Whitehorse. She made both free throws to make it 52-50.

At the other end of the court, however, Tsingine iced the game with her final two free throws.

The loss won’t keep Page (20-8) out of the Division III state tournament, but could possibly cost the team a first-round bye. The six sectional champions and the next two highest-ranked teams receive byes. The Devils were ranked fourth before the loss to Tuba City.

If the girls don’t get a bye, they’ll more than likely host a first-round tournament game on Feb. 19. If they get the bye, their first game would be Feb. 22 at a neutral site, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association website.

The Sand Devils boys, seeded third, play #2 Tuba City in the opening game of their sectional tournament Feb. 12 in Chinle.

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