Winslow had to win three games in three days to make the long trip to Chandler Valley Christian as the 24th and final seed in the Division III boys basketball tournament.
Tuesday night, it needed longer bodies.
Overmatched and unable to penetrate Valley Christian’s fortress, Winslow hung for a half before collapsing in the third quarter, but it continued to scrap in a 62-49 loss inside Valley Christian’s tiny, packed gym.
Valley Christian (19-9), led by 6-foot-4 guard Brandon Haagsma’s 20 points, advances to Friday’s round of 16 in Flagstaff to play No. 8 seed St. Johns at 9 a.m. at Northern Arizona’s Walkup Skydome.
Winslow finished 16-14.
Normally, Valley Christian gets up north for a holiday tournament to experience reservation-style basketball. Not this year. This was Valley Christian’s first experience this season against a smaller team that has a non-stop motor.
“Quick hands down low, the constant pressure, the never-give-up attitude that these teams seem to have, five guys stepping up to take the 3,” said Valley Christian coach Greg Haagsma, describing Winslow.
Things looked promising for a quarter for Winslow, which scrapped and kept Valley Christian’s taller players from having an impact under the basket.
Valley Christian, leading 11-10 after a quarter, began to assert its will, scored the first seven points in the second quarter and opened up a 10-point lead.
Winslow fought back to make it a seven-point halftime deficit.
But Valley Christian came out of the longer-than-normal halftime draining 3s. It held Winslow to just seven points in the quarter and built a 44-27 lead and never let its top player, guard Michael Goldtooth, get going. Goldtooth, who came in averaging 15 points, was held to 11 points.
Winslow made four 3-pointers in the final quarter and got even with 1:12 left on 6-1 post Vincenzio Sells’ layup.
Winslow missed its next four 3-point attempts and got no closer, as Valley Christian made eight free throws the rest of the way.
Winslow rez style will only help Valley Christian down the road.
“Obvisouly, we’ve got St. Johns on Friday, which is not a reservation team,” Greg Haagsma said. “But if we do get by them, we get Window Rock on Monday.”
Window Rock is the No. 1 seed in the tournament.