Alamo Navajo’s Sapphire Sandoval had a game-high 20 points against Hondo.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

HONDO—Alamo Navajo shook off its first-half transition problems and ran away from Hondo in a 60-26 District 3-1A basketball road victory against Hondo on Jan 28.

Coach J.J. Apachito’s squad has struggled with injuries all season. Two players did not make the trip to Hondo, which caused some changes in his lineup, and the Lady Cougars didn’t have their usual snap when it came from moving from defense to offense.

Alamo missed more than its fair share of fast-break layups in the first quarter but still had an 11-5 lead, with multiple trips to the free-throw line being the most significant factor. Hondo kept fouling senior Hailey Apachito, who had six of the Lady Cougar’s first-frame points.

Katelyn Stockham came up with the only other field goal in the first eight minutes, but it came from long-distance range, and before the game was over, four other Lady Cougars would also dial the ball home.

Sapphire Sandoval punched in a pair of threes in the second quarter, but things didn’t get rolling for Alamo until the third quarter.

“We went in at halftime, and I explained to them where they needed to make the adjustments so we could transition the way we needed,” Apachito said. “When we started making those transitions, that’s when we really started playing strong.”

Alamo blazed its way through the third quarter with a 17-7 advantage. As they got more comfortable, the Lady Cougars got stronger with a 20-4 final run.

“I have to remind them they have got to have fun. They’re so competitive. They get down on themselves if they make a mistake, and I just have to remind them that this is fun,” Apachito said.

Claire Apachito and Samara Guerro provided the Lady Cougars with quality play in the second half. Apachito scored all seven of her points in the final period, and Guerro got five points in the frame.

Coach Apachito had a behind-the-scene challenge for his Lady Cougars, with the team having a 60-point game in its sights against a quality opponent. Alamo had topped that mark only once this season and had two 59-point games.

“They weren’t sure they could do it against Hondo, but I knew we could if we keep our focus,” Apachito said.

At 3-0 in league play, the Lady Cougars are the frontrunner but will need to take business at home where Alamo hasn’t played as well as they have on the road.

“I honestly think we are stronger on the road than we are at home. Our crowd is very loud, and sometimes it gets our younger girls shaken up,” Apachito said. “Right now (in Hondo), the crowd is a little bit calmer, and they’re able to let loose and play.”

Calm and loose is what Apachito will need from his players as they head down the stretch over the next two weeks, and if the Lady Cougars take care of business, they are likely to win a league crown and go undefeated in district play in doing it.

While Alamo may sometimes struggle at home, the Lady Cougars have yet to lose in their gym and will still need to take care of business when they are on their three-game road stretch over the next week.


Hailey Apachito 10, Janea Vicente 7, Sapphira Sandoval 20, Alvina Apachito 5, Valaria Cheney 2, Claire Apachito 7, Katelyn Stockham 3, Samara Guerro 6.