Nothing changes a basketball team’s fortunes the way a steadying influence at the point guard position does.
Haskell Indian Nations University’s men’s team quickly is learning what such leadership brings. This year, it comes in the form of the Indians’ new 6-foot-3 chief: Solomon Horse Chief, that is.
Behind Horse Chief’s 29 points, Haskell easily put away Bacone College, 92-67, Saturday at Coffin Complex.
Horse Chief, a senior transfer from NCAA Div. I Pacific University, made his first seven shots on a series of jumpers and acrobatic moves into the lane. He finished the contest 12-of-17 from the field, all while playing less than half the game. Horse Chief’s final points came at the free throw line with 9:15 remaining in the contest. He then exited for good, as his team’s advantage ballooned to 76-49.
“He’s the best point guard I’ve ever played with,” Haskell forward Ben Carry Water said. “It’s real good for us to actually have a point guard here. He’s a very good player. Smart.”
The Indians buried 11 of their first 12 shots from the field, opening up a 23-7 lead on the Warriors. Horse Chief began the scoring barrage 41 seconds into the game with a baseline jumper and closed it when he slithered into the lane for one of several layups.
Haskell’s lead never dipped below double digits from that point on. The Indians won their third consecutive regular season game to improve to 5-6.
“We were kind of sloppy at first,” said Horse Chief, whose sister, Sade, attends Haskell as well. “We really weren’t clicking. I mean, now we’re clicking. That’s all I can say.”
One of the biggest keys for the Indians?
A couple days of rest.
Haskell started the season with 11 games in 21 days, including road trips to Arizona and Montana.
“When we practiced on Friday, it felt like the first practice we’d had in three weeks,” Haskell coach Ted Juneau said.
Added Carry Water: “We finally got two days rest. I think that’s why we came out strong. We felt good.”
Did they ever. The Indians shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the opening half (22-for-37), hanging 51 points on the scoreboard to the Warriors’ 28 in the first 20 minutes. Haskell did so by pressuring defensively and converting easy buckets on the other end.
“At the beginning of the season, I was trying to walk it down,” Horse Chief said. “Coach kind of got on me one game. Ever since then, we just fast break.”
Carry Water finished with 12 points, while Vince Chavez added 11. Freshman DJ Fish contributed a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Indians.
And it certainly didn’t hurt that Horse Chief was in the mix from the beginning.
“If he continues to progress the way he has,” Juneau said, “there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to be one of the best point guards at this level this year and will do a lot of great things for us.”