Bloomfield pulled off a 102-93 upset win against the Tigers on Friday in Aztec.
“It’s always nice to win in Aztec,” said the Bobcats’ Michael Crockett, who scored a game-high 26 points.
The Bobcats handled the Tigers’ press-defense throughout the contest, leading to a plethora of uncontested layups.
“We came together and were really supportive,” Crockett said. “We’ve gone over their press a lot in practice. There were a few times that we had some breakdowns, but we had a lot of great movement off the ball. It was a great team effort tonight.”
All seven Bobcats who played scored in double figures.
Ryan Johnson scored 16 for Bloomfield while Damien Duran and Tyler Barker added 15 each.
Ray Sanchez, Dustin Dugger and Cesar Serna chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Bloomfield’s poise under pressure was the key to pulling out the victory, said Bobcats’ head coach Devon Manning.
“They didn’t panic when Aztec made their runs,” Manning said of his players. “We would come back with four or six straight points. We had a fire that I haven’t seen all year.”
The Bobcats (4-6) struggled throughout the first three quarters from the free-throw line and finished 18-for-35 from the charity stripe.
In the final quarter, however, Bloomfield hit 11-of-13 to help seal the victory.
The Tigers beat the Bobcats on Tuesday 96-90, but were unable to duplicate that performance.
“They did well adjusting to the press,” said Aztec head coach Jody Christman. “They just played harder than us.”
Kyle Dodd led the Tigers with 24 points, and Wyatt Schlueter scored 19 before fouling out with about five minutes left in the game.
Juwan Charley hit five 3-pointers to score 15 points, and Conner Gaskins added 14 for Aztec (5-6) in the loss.
Christman is hopeful that the loss will open his team’s eyes on the improvements it still needs to make.
“We have some stuff we need to clean up, and hopefully this loss will send the message home,” he said.
Bloomfield hit 68-percent from the field on 41-of-60 shooting, compared to just 46-percent on 34-of-74 for Aztec.
The Bobcats will advance to today’s title game to face Piedra Vista after the Panthers dispatched of Ignacio 55-38 in the other semifinal.
PV struggled to find its offensive rhythm throughout the game, but locked down Ignacio on the defensive end.
“I looked at the first half and the reason they were in it was because their No. 11 (Clayton Jefferson) was playing well,” said PV head coach Adam Huff. “So I put in Dakota Vigil because Troy (Dixon) had foul trouble and said ‘11 is yours, shut him down and we’ll blow them out,’ and that’s what happened.”
Jefferson scored 10 in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second half as PV pulled away in the fourth quarter for a comfortable win.
Jake Armijo led the Panthers with 15 points, but struggled from the field, hitting 6-for-18 including 3-for-12 from 3-point range.
“I still need to work more on getting my teammates open,” Armijo said. “My shot hasn’t been falling lately. My ankle is still a little messed up, but it’ll get there.”
Ty Jaquez also added 13 points in the PV (8-8) win.
Ignacio had success against teams within San Juan County this season, defeating Shiprock twice and Kirtland Central, so Huff was satisfied with his team’s ability to come out with the victory.
“I told them that I thought they were the second best team in this tourney,” he said. “And so a win like that is huge for us. Now we just have to go finish the weekend off.”
Shiprock 67, Fruita Monument 46
The Chieftains responded to a loss against Ignacio by beating Fruita in the consolation bracket.
“We came out hungrier and just played ball,” said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. “We had good ball movement and challenged them defensively.”
Three Chieftains scored in double figures in the victory.
Justin Begay led Shiprock (12-4) with 18 points while Hiram Gleason added 15 and Kevin Aspaas scored 12.
The Chieftains will play Bayfield, Colo., today in the consolation final.
Atcitty will miss the contest after being suspended for a game by the New Mexico Activities Association for comments made in The Daily Times about the officiating in Thursday’s loss to Ignacio.
“I felt like I had to be heard, but I went about it the wrong way,” he said.