For the second straight year, San Juan County basketball teams will be participating in the New Mexico American Indian Classic.

The Shiprock boys and Piedra Vista girls teams are the defending champions of the event and will be returning to the tournament along with the Navajo Prep boys and girls teams.

The tournament, hosted by New Mexico State University-Grants, adds an educational aspect not seen at many sporting events.

When the kids are away from the court, they'll have the opportunity to participate in educational workshops put on by the university.

The education fair, which runs along side the basketball tournament at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, consists of career, life skills, leadership and college-related workshops that the kids can attend while awaiting their next game.

"I'm an advocate for it," said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. "It's a good learning opportunity, and it's good to see what's out there for the kids as far as available majors and fields of study they maybe interested in."

PV is the defending champ of the girls bracket and is looking forward to participating in the event again.

"There are a lot of good, young Native American speakers that the kids can learn from," said Lady Panther head coach Mike Christie.

The Navajo Prep girls team is participating in the event for the first time and head coach Rainy Crisp hopes her team takes advantage of the opportunity to grow in the classroom and on the court.

"They have some great workshops that will be good for the girls, especially the upperclassmen, to attend," Crisp said.


"And this is a good chance for us to get together over the break and start clicking as a team."

The tournament begins today with Shiprock and Navajo Prep playing host to first round games.

The Chieftains will play the Navajo Prep boys team while the Navajo Prep girls will host Crownpoint.

The Lady Panthers will travel to Navajo Pine for their first matchup.

All four teams will then make their way to Rio Rancho on Friday and Saturday to complete the tournament.