Tribal communities showcase skills at Arizona basketball tournament

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The Arizona High School Basketball Tournament is bringing people from all over the state to the Valley this weekend. The crowd can be loud and proud during the games inside the Coliseum at the Fairgrounds.

While the games are important, the tournament shows how dedicated communities all over the state are to their girl’s basketball teams.

Page High School is the #1 overall seed in the girls bracket for the 3A State Championship. On Friday, the Sand Devils played #13 Chinle High School in front of a big crowd in Phoenix. Both teams are from hundreds of miles away in northern Arizona, but their fans showed up and were loud during the semi-final game Friday afternoon.

“It’s a big part of us,” Carllene Curley said. “Just supporting the girls and their family’s is huge.”

Curley’s husband is an assistant coach on the Chinle girls’ basketball team. She and her daughter drove five hours to Phoenix Friday morning to support the team.

“So proud of them. I see a lot of the community members here.”

Page High School was also well-represented. While there were parents and friends of the players, there were also people from Page who just wanted to support the girls.

It’s like the Super Bowl for me,” Rodney Slim said. “I call this the res-ball finals. Lot of natives here. Apaches and Navajos. It’s great. I love it here.”

Slim’s daughter graduated from Page High School last year, but he said he knows all the girls and their families want to support the team since his whole family went to the same high school.

The Sand Devils were able to pull away in the second half to win the game and advance to the finals on Saturday. They’ll take on Show Low. Head Coach Celeste Claw says the team is ready to try and win it all.

“It’s a great environment it talks about res-ball and the 3A north,” Claw said. “It’s very special. It just shows the commitment of the community the support from everyone from the reservation itself. Glad we got the win today and can play tomorrow.”

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