Kirtland Central picked up a much-needed win while Shiprock bounced back from a disappointing loss with a big win of its own in the first round of the Lady Bronco Invite.
The Lady Broncos (3-9) went up early against Thoreau and eventually cruised to a 59-25 victory in Kirtland’s first home game of the 2012-13 season.
“We haven’t had much success this year, but it was our first home game of the year and we built a nice 19-point lead in the first half by doing good things,” said Kirtland head coach Kevin Holman.
Taylor Billey led the Lady Broncos with 17 points in the win while Shamika Benally scored another 12 in the win.
The 59-point outburst was Kirtland’s highest scoring game of the season so far.
“Being at home for the first time helped our shooting a bit since we shoot here every day. Just scoring some points helped our confidence a lot,” Holman said. “We have struggled all year to score, but getting close to 60 tonight really helps.”
The Lady Broncos will face Belen, who beat Navajo Pine in a 42-40 thriller, in the semifinals tonight at 7 p.m.
“It will be a real competitive game. Belen took down a very good Pine team in a very close and exciting game. It was a good win for Belen’s program, and it should be a really good set of semifinals games with Fruita and Shiprock and then us and Belen.”
Shiprock (10-2) rebounded from a 51-40 loss to Window Rock, Ariz., with a big 65-34 win against Ignacio, Colo., on Thursday.
Taylor Henderson scored 16 points in the win while Geovonia Harry added another 12.
“We are kind of stumbling right now with some injuries, and the girls are out of sync after our almost two-week layoff,” said Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson. “We have to get our chemistry going again. Other than those problems, we did what we were supposed to against Ignacio.
“We had some touchy foul calls in the first half. When we were out in Window Rock, it was a very physical game. It is definitely a change when you come back here.”
The Lady Chieftains will play Fruita Monument, Colo., who beat Grants 65-56 on Thursday, in tonight’s 5:30 p.m. game.
“Fruita has a pretty good guard we will have to contain. Other than focusing on her, we just want to take this tournament one game at a time and do what we are supposed to,” Henderson said.
Thursday’s game was Henderson’s first back in Bronco Arena where he was an assistant coach for Holman for two seasons, including last year’s state championship run.
“It kind of felt weird being back. I have much respect for Kirtland, and it was good to be there again because Kirtland basketball is so great,” Henderson said. “It was also good seeing a lot of the kids I used to coach.”
Before the semifinals, Navajo Pine will square off with Thoreau at 2 p.m. and Ignacio will play Grants at 3:30 p.m.