Whitehorse and Monument Valley girls conclude successful basketball seasons

by Rhett Sifford
The Whitehorse High School girls basketball team hasn’t experienced much recent success at the annual 1A state tournament in Richfield.
Since the team’s high mark in 2005 when they finished as state runners-up, the Lady Raiders failed to qualify four times and played all four days at the tournament only twice.
But that changed this past week at the Sevier Valley Center when the girls opened the 2019 edition of the tournament with back-to-back wins over Manila and Bryce Valley.
In their round one matchup with Manila, it was all Whitehorse. The Lady Raiders outscored the Lady Mustangs 20-8 in the first quarter and 19-12 in the second for a 39-20 lead at the half.  WHS cruised to a 60-46 win in the second half.
Daan Filfred led the Lady Raider attack with 14 points. Shundean Begay and Ashonte Dickson added 11 apiece. Heidi Thomas and Jordan Murphy each scored nine.
Defense was the key in the state quarterfinals as Whitehorse held Bryce Valley to just 29 percent shooting on the night. It was a back-and-forth affair though. The Lady Raiders led 12-9 after one quarter but the teams were tied 18-18 at halftime.
Whitehorse outscored the Lady Mustangs by one in the third quarter and got their strongest offensive output of the game in the fourth, besting Bryce Valley 15-10 to take the win 39-33.
Daan Filfred registered a double-double in the game with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Bahazhoni Filfred and Heidi Thomas rounded out the top three in scoring for WHS with eight and seven points respectively.
It was the Lady Raiders’ first state quarterfinal win in five seasons, and set them up for a semifinal showdown with number one-ranked and defending state champion Panguitch.
From the opening tip Whitehorse had their hands full with the balanced offensive attack of the defending champs. The Lady Bobcats jumped out to a 14-6 lead after one quarter and added 13 in the second to lead WHS 27-14 at the half.
Whitehorse kept pace with Panguitch in the second half, but the hole was just too deep and the Lady Raiders suffered a tough 54-37 loss.
The Lady Bobcats were strong defensively, holding Whitehorse’s leading scorer, Dean Filfred to just nine points on the night.
Shundean Begay stepped in to fill the gap for the Lady Raiders with her tournament-best 19 points.
Although it was disappointing to miss the championship game, Whitehorse had to get right back to business in the state third place game versus the team that was ranked second in the state entering the tournament – Rich.
Impressively, the Lady Raiders held their own and it was an excellent game from both teams.
Although the Lady Rebels led 28-24 at the half, Whitehorse battled back to make the score 36-34 headed into the fourth quarter.
It was tight, but Rich bested WHS 16-12 in the final frame to take home third place.
Daan Filfred once again grabbed a double-double for the Lady Raiders with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Shundean Begay added 13 points for WHS.
The fourth place finish is the best for Whitehorse in 14 seasons. They end the year with 17 wins and nine losses. Congratulations are definitely in order to first-year head coach Tiona Grant and her girls on an excellent year.
Monument Valley
After their fourth place finish in the 2018 1A state tournament, the Lady Cougars of Monument Valley High School had high hopes for this year’s event.
An easy 53-28 win over the Valley Lady Buffalos in round one set up the matchup of the day in the state quarterfinals between number three Piute and the number four Lady Cougars.
The Lady Thunderbirds jumped out to an early lead and Monument Valley found themselves battling from behind all game. The Lady Cougars kept it close though, and trailed by only five at the half 27-22.
The Monument Valley defense was strong, forcing 26 turnovers in the game.
But Piute shot an amazing 57 percent from the floor, and outscored the Lady Cougars 37-33 in the second half to end Monument Valley’s title hopes 64-54.
Ervianne Cly was impressive as usual, scoring 22 points in the losing effort. Jamika Nelson added 18 and Bertilena Atene chipped in with eight.
Following their state quarterfinal loss, the Lady Cougars went to work in the fifth place bracket. It’s not an easy task to bounce back after suffering a tough loss at the state tournament, but MVHS did exactly that.
The girls shot a strong 44 percent from the field on the way to a relatively easy win over the Wendover Lady Wildcats in the fifth place semifinals 70-53.
Two players – Ervianne Cly and Jamika Nelson – combined for 54 of the Lady Cougars’ 70 points with both girls scoring 27 apiece. Cly hit four three point baskets in the game.
The win meant that Monument Valley would play on day four of the state tournament for just the second time in the last 13 seasons. And in the 2019 fifth place game, the girls faced a very familiar foe.
MVHS and Wayne had already played each other three times this season, with the Lady Cougars holding a two games to one edge.
Each matchup was hard-fought and close, and the teams were neck-and-neck fighting for the Region 19 championship all season.
It only made sense that they would meet one final time in the last game of the season – and it truly didn’t disappoint.
Monument Valley held sway for most of the game, leading 17-13 after one quarter, 32-24 at the half, and 45-35 after three.
But after Wayne mounted an impressive fourth quarter comeback, the Lady Cougars led by just two points with less than two seconds remaining and Wayne set for an offensive inbound.
As a stunned Sevier Valley Center crowd looked on, the Lady Badgers inbounded the ball and hit a buzzer-beating three point basket to cap an improbable comeback win 64-63 over Monument Valley.
It was definitely a heartbreaker for the Lady Cougars, but it was also an impressive game for the girls.
Ervianne Cly and Jamika Nelson both picked up double-doubles – Cly with 20 points and 11 rebounds and Nelson with 14 points and 10 boards.
Bertilena Atene narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds and Tanisha Cowboy was the fourth Lady Cougar to score in double digits with 10.
With two wins and two losses at the state tournament, a seventh place finish was very respectable.
Monument Valley ended the year with a 19-6 overall record. They were Region 19 champions for the first time since 2013.
This has been a fun group of girls to watch come together as a team over the past four years and the lessons they take with them for the rest of their lives reach far beyond the basketball court.
Congratulations to head coach Terri James on another excellent season.

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