The Lady Cougars came out on fire and used a dominating 20-4 first-quarter run to pummel Corona into submission early in a 42-30 District 3 1A win for Alamo Navajo on Jan. 20.
Hailey Apachito nailed three long-range shots in the first eight minutes. Sapphira Sandoval added a fourth as the Lady Cougars worked the arc to counter Corona’s considerable height advantage.
On defense, the strategy was to swarm the ball like a swarm of angry hornets and collapse on the Corona post in the paint.
Once his squad had a comfortable lead, coach J.J. Apachito began digging into his bench, where he has been working younger players in preparation for a planned playoff run.
“I wanted to run my bench. I want it to run my bench more, and that’s my whole goal throughout the district,” Apachito said. “I want my bench to help us out down the stretch. That’s the reason why I kept them in for so long. We had a big early lead, and I put them right away to get them some experience down the road.”
Koolonna Apachito played in the shadow of her taller opponent, but timely block-outs and hard hip-checks led to rebounds that the Lady Cougars used to keep Corona off balance.
“Koolonna is a very, very, very tough girl. She’s always up for any challenge we give her. I tell her this is what I want, and she goes out there and gives it,” Apachito said.
Despite Corona outscoring Alamo over each of the next three quarters, Apachito’s bench delivered, and nine Lady Cougars would end up scoring, with Sandoval’s game-high 10 points leading the way.
With the injury bug repeatedly biting the Lady Cougars, Alamo is looking to get some early maturity from players like Alvina Apachito, who drew her coach’s praise for her scrambling work.
“She kept the energy going by just getting after it on defense. That’s one person that I’m really trying to get in more down the stretch because I’ll need her,” Apachito said.
Hailey Apachito 9, Sapphira Sandoval 10, Alvina Apachito 2, Valaria Cheney 2, Ellizina Guerro 5, Claire Apachito 5, Alexandria Jake 4, Koolonna Apachito 2, Tiana Apachito 3.