Aztec used a 60-45 halftime lead to its advantage, leading the entire way to a 96-90 win against rival Bloomfield.
Wyatt Schlueter of Aztec and Michael Crockett of Bloomfield put on a display for the fans in Bloomfield as Crockett scored a game-high 34 points while Schlueter went for 33 in the win for Aztec.
“Aztec pushed us up and down. I am sure it was a fun game to watch from the stands,” said Bloomfield head coach Devon Manning.
Aztec (4-5) led by nearly 30 points at one point, but Bloomfield (2-6) showed no quit.
“I give Bloomfield a lot of credit. We did have some foul trouble that shortened up some of our rotations at the end, but in general they broke out pressure and got layups to cut into our lead,” said Aztec head coach Jody Christman.
The Tigers scored from behind the 3-point line 13 times Tuesday.
“We shot the ball OK, but we have to rebound the ball better and get our guys inside the paint working on offense,” Christman said.
Eli King scored another 20 points for Aztec while Jaime Lopez and Conner Gaskins each scored 11 in the win.
With a roster loaded with athletes, Christman said it has been the coaching staff’s job to get the athletes in position to make plays.
“We are trying to increase our offensive tempo and play faster.
We accomplished that tonight,” he said.
Bloomfield hit a three at the buzzer to get within six points, but that was as close as the Bobcats would get after going down early.
“We were dead for a quarter and a half and Aztec got up 30 on us. We kept chipping away at the end, but the guys have to realize they have to put it together for a whole 32 minutes,” Manning said. “At times, we played the best we have all year. When you can’t sustain that, it will cost you.”
Both teams will play in Aztec’s tournament beginning Thursday.
Bloomfield faces Shiprock’s junior varsity while Aztec opens against Bayfield, Colo.
“We would love to see Aztec again in that tournament, but we will play against whoever is on the court with us,” Manning said.
Shiprock 84, Miyamura 49
All five of Shiprock’s starting players scored in double-digits Tuesday as the Chieftains picked up a valuable road win over a 4A opponent.
Shiprock (11-3) strolled past Miyamura 84-49 in Gallup behind Justin Begay’s 20 points. Patdric Toehe scored another 19 while Hiram Gleason scored 13.
Kevin Aspaas and Dominique Todacheenie each scored 10 in the win for the Chieftains.
“It is nice to have all of those starters in double-figures. Any one of them can have a good game. When teams focus on one, the other goes off,” said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. “We have no problem scoring, but we want to make other teams earn their points. Defensively, we want to turn it up. We are slowly getting there.”
Atcitty was able to work in all of his reserve players, and he said every player contributed in some way Tuesday.
The Chieftains will have another chance to earn some victories against 4A teams this weekend in the Aztec tournament but, first, Shiprock must get past Ignacio, Colo., at 1 p.m. Thursday.
It will be a chance at revenge for the Chieftains, who lost to Ignacio 58-57 in the championship game of the Kirtland Central tournament Dec. 1.
Piedra Vista 53, Navajo Prep 31
The Lady Panthers opened 2013 with their best quarter of the year, outscoring Navajo Prep 19-4 en rout to a big win.
Piedra Vista (8-7) used that early lead to cruise to a 53-31 win Tuesday night at Navajo Prep (5-5).
“That was the best quarter we have played. We established a good tone and held Prep to only 10 points at the half,” said PV head coach Mike Christie. “We had good passing across the board and a lot of assists.”
Kaleigh Graham led the Lady Panthers with 13 points. Claudia Charles had another 10 in the win.
Christie was also happy with the way his team finished the game as reserves were able to see valuable minutes.
He credited quality practices over the last week and a half for the team’s improved performance.
“We have strung good practices together. When the girls turn the ball over in practice, we make turnovers in the games,” Christie said. “The last few practices, we have been solid and it showed. We are starting to turn the corner and grow up a bit.”
Delta Higdon led Navajo Prep with 12 points.
“I knew coming into the game that PV would be ahead of us is conditioning because they practiced during the break and we weren’t able to,” said Navajo Prep head coach Rainy Crisp. “We needed to come out strong and we didn’t. Our tendency is to wait until the third and fourth quarters to play, but that backfired on us tonight.”
Navajo Prep will face Santa Fe Indian School on Friday.
“We played them in their tournament and they are definitely one of the top teams in the state. They are big and athletic and can make shots from everywhere on the court,” Crisp said. “We have to really come out Friday with good defense. We will have to box out and convert on our open looks on offense.”
PV hosts No. 5 Miyamura Thursday night. Christie said he would rank the Patriots as high as No. 3.
“We are going to have to come out ready to play for that one,” Christie said. “Miyamura is a good team but, I told the girls, we have a chance to establish ourselves as one of the top teams on the Four Corners girls’ basketball landscape right now.”
Durango, Colo., 38, Kirtland Central 35
The Lady Broncos suffered another tough loss Tuesday night in Colorado.
Defending 4A state champion Kirtland Central (2-9) fell to Durango, Colo., 38-35 despite leading the entire way until the final seconds.
“We just struggled to put the ball in the hoop. When you are holding a team to seven points in the first half, you think you should be up 20. But we were only up 13-7 at half,” said Kitland head coach Kevin Holman.
The Lady Broncos led the whole game until they turned it over with 40 seconds left. Durango tied the game and eventually took the lead with two free throws with under 10 seconds to play. Kirtland turned the ball over again and sent the Demons to the line again where Durango iced the game.
“We have to finish a game. We have to somehow get a win and get some confidence,” Holman said. “I thought tonight we could finally get it before our tournament begins Thursday, but we didn’t get it done.”
Kirtland opens its tournament against Thoreau on Thursday night.
Aztec 50, Bloomfield 31
The Lady Tigers earned a confidence boost Tuesday night with a win to get above .500 on the season.
Aztec (9-8) took down rival Bloomfield (3-8) 50-31 at home thanks to Morgan Smith’s 18 points.
Taylor Toledo also stepped up with nine points in the win.
“This definitely helps our confidence as we get closer to district,” said Aztec head coach Ben Tensay. “I have challenged our guards like Taylor, and she did a great job getting steals, rebounds and making some tough shots.”
Mikayla Paxton led Aztec with eight rebounds while Thaila Quinn hauled in another seven.
Tensay said the full-court-press defense his team used eventually wore down Bloomfield.
The Lady Bobcats kept the game close in the first half before Aztec ran away with it late.
“Our kids are athletes. When we wore Bloomfield out, that is when we attacked the most and got to the hole,” Tensay said.
Tensay said he would like to see the team score more points in the paint with Quinn and Paxton. The team will get its next chance to work on that Saturday in Mancos, Colo.