GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — The Grand Canyon Phantoms and Lady Phantoms had a strong showing at the Route 66 Holiday Classic Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Ash Fork and Williams.
The Phantoms finished sixth out of 10 teams, which head coach David Perkins said is the highest the team has placed at the tournament in several years. After losing the first two games of the tournament to Ash Fork and Hopi, the Phantoms came back with big wins over Bagdad and Joseph City. The team lost its final tournament game to Needles.
While the Phantoms got off to a slow start in the first quarter of the Nov. 29 game against Ash Fork, they showed a lot of energy in the second, going on 12-0 run over the Spartans and erasing a 10-point deficit in just under four minutes. Cordell Bob led the Phantoms in scoring with 14 points, including 4 threes. Melakai Longhoma followed with 8 points and pulled down six rebounds. Elijah Dugi hauled in eight rebounds of his own, but in the end, Perkins said the team was simply outhustled by the Spartans. The team had a lot of energy but failed to convert on several scoring opportunities under the basket. The final score was 55-35.
The Phantom’s speedy offense was stifled by the Hopi Bruins in a low-scoring game. The Phantoms managed just 13 points in the game, with 7 coming from Keebahe and 4 from Aleryn Reid. The score was 12-9 at the end of the first half, however, the Bruins came out of the locker room strong in the second, outscoring the Phantoms 22-4. The Phantoms were tough on the boards, pulling in 22 rebounds, but they turned the ball over 13 times under the Bruins’ strong perimeter defense. The final score was 34-13.
The team switched gears Nov. 30, coming out with a powerful defense against the Bagdad Sultans.
“It looked like a different Phantoms team,” Perkins said of the stifling defense, which allowed Bagdad only 17 points.
Perkins said Reid, a senior, led the Phantoms with a solid performance, contributing 12 points and patient floor leadership.
After leading by three at the end of the first half, the Phantoms went on a 21-7 hot streak in the second. Keebahe chipped in 10 points and 5 rebounds along with Reid’s 12, leading a balanced offense rounded out by 5 points apiece from Cordell Bob and Longhoma. The final score was 34-17.
The team played a tight game with the Joseph City Wildcats, snapping a 7-game skid Perkins says dates back several seasons.
Perkins said the Phantoms had contributions early from senior Carlos Briones, who set the defensive tone for the game, and late from junior Noah Vincent and senior Elijah Dugi, who each sank one late free throw to secure the Phantoms victory. Keebahe contributed 11 points and 5 rebounds, while Reid and Longhoma chipped in 6 and 5 points respectively. The final score was 29-25.
The Phantoms faced the Needles Mustangs in their final game of the tournament, fighting hard but falling by just 9 points in a high-scoring game.
Keebahe had a breakout game with 24 points, including 15 from beyond the arc. Melakai Lognhoma contributed 14 points and pounded the boards for 17 rebounds, eight of them offensive. Reid had 10 points and Bob 7 in the hard-fought game. Although the score was close after the half, 27-23, the Mustangs pulled away in the the third, outscoring the Phantoms 22-12. The Phantoms made a close run in the final quarter, but were unable to catch the Mustangs. The final score was 69-60.
Lady Phantoms win championship rematch, settle for second place
The Lady Phantoms took the Route 66 Holiday Classic by storm, powering past four opponents before narrowly dropping the championship game to Chandler Prep by just 4 points.
Head Coach Rosie Evans said some of the younger girls got playing time in the team’s first outing against Ash Fork Nov. 29.
Grand Canyon scored 11 points in three out of four quarters to secure the 33-18 victory over the Lady Spartans. Alana Keebahe led all scorers with 13 points, including 9 from downtown. Savannah Longhoma dropped in 4 points, Cayli Miles, Maria Dugi and Anlylian Loquino contributed 3 points each and Makiah Kennedy and Kara Austin rounded out the scoring with a goal apiece.
The Lady Phantoms were looking forward to last year’s tournament championship rematch against the Hopi Bruins. After going down early in the first quarter, the Lady Phantoms never again trailed the Bruins. Miles led all scorers with 22 points while contributing 6 assists and 5 steals. Savannah Longhoma dropped in 10 points and had 4 steals and newcomer Sherice Keevama chipped in 7 points as the Lady Phantoms coasted to a 48-36 victory over the Lady Bruins.
Savannah Longhoma led the charge the following day against the Bagdad Lady Sultans, breaking out for 20 points to lead all scorers and hauling in 5 rebounds. Dugi contributed 9 points, all from beyond the arc.
The Lady Phantoms had a stingy defense, allowing the Lady Sultans just 17 points in the 42-17 victory.
Longhoma and Dugi continued their dominance against the Joseph City Lady Wildcats, dropping in a combined 27 points and 10 steals. Alana Keebahe laid in 8 points, while Miles and Keevama chipped in 4 apiece. Moquino rounded out the scoring with 3 points. The Lady Phantoms never trailed and coasted to an easy 46-14 win over their conference rival.
After cruising through the first four opponents, the Lady Phantoms found a tough competitor in the Chandler Prep Lady Titans.
Savannah Longhoma was once against an offensive force, contributing 22 points, with Miles close behind with 15. The Lady Phantoms had a strong presence in the paint with Calley Scheller but were just barely behind the Lady Titans through the first half. They outscored the Titans in the third but were unable to cut far into their lead, dropping a tough game by only 4 points.