Michael Redbear, shown in an earlier game, fueled a late-game run by the Sand Devils, but it wasn't enough.
Another close game. Another loss to Tuba City.
The Page High boys basketball team suffered the same fate Feb. 12 as the Lady Sand Devils did the previous night, falling to the Warriors and being eliminated from the sectional tournament. The final score was 41-39.
Carson Wright was fouled at the buzzer but couldn’t make free throws that would have sent the game into overtime.
The score was close throughout the game except for a 10-2 run by the Sand Devils at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth that staked them to a 34-26 lead. Michael Redbear scored nine of those points.
Tuba City, however, quickly closed the gap to one before Jamaal Thomas hit a three-pointer to put Page up 37-33.
Thomas, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, got into early foul trouble and had just five points before fouling out near the end of the game.
The Warriors gradually pulled even, then ahead by one, over the waning seconds. They hit the front end of a one and one with 16 seconds left to take a 41-39 lead. The second free throw attempt failed and Page’s Roger Sandall grabbed the rebound.
Page called timeout, then advanced the ball past halfcourt and called another with 7.7 seconds left.
After that, Wright was fouled but failed to connect from the line.
Tuba City, seeded second in the tournament, will face the winner of #1 Chinle and #4 Monument Valley Feb. 15 for the section championship.
It was the Sand Devils third loss in four games against the Warriors this season.
The Devils (15-10) still have a good chance to make the 24-team state tournament. They were ranked 14th in Division III before the loss to Tuba City. First-round games are scheduled for Feb. 18 on the home court of the higher seed.
The top-seeded Lady Sand Devils’ 54-50 loss the the Warriors Feb. 11 certainly won’t keep them out of the tournament, but could possibly cost them a first-round bye. The six sectional champions and the next two highest-ranked teams receive byes. Page dropped from 4th to 5th in the DIII rankings after the loss.
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.
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