On a night where the only thing colder than the weather outside was Shiprock's shooting, the Chieftains' defense stepped up to grind out a victory against Kirtland Central.
Despite hitting just 1-for-18 from 3-point range, Shiprock defeated the Broncos 59-47 Tuesday in the Chieftain Pit.
"Our mentality every game is defense," said Patdric Toehe, who scored 13 points for Shiprock in the victory. "We focus on defense all week in practice and during every game. "
The Chieftains full-court press forced the Broncos' guards into multiple turnovers throughout the game.
"Those guys get after you and play with a lot of intensity, and we don't," said Kirtland head coach John Zecca.
Even though his team controlled play through most of the game, Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. wasn’t completely satisfied and still sees room for improvement.
"We are working toward getting stronger on defense. Slowly, it's coming together. We did an excellent job on (Christian) Mackey and pressuring the guards," Atcitty said. "Offensively, it was a struggle. I encouraged the guys to stay aggressive and get to the line. That was the key — attack, attack, attack. I thought at times we got impatient, but that's just high school boys. We're just looking for that balance."
The Broncos took advantage of Shiprock's slow start, and opened an 11-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Chieftains responded by starting the second quarter on an 11-2 run to gain a 19-13 lead.
Kirtland never found an answer as Shiprock kept the lead for the rest of the contest.
Hiram Gleason scored 13 points and Justin Begay tacked 11 more in the Shiprock victory.
Wilbert Smith led the Broncos with 15 points, while Mackey and Bud Willie added 14 apiece. The rest of the Kirtland squad scored just four points on 1-of-18 shooting.
"Christian is getting tripled teamed, and, when other guys aren't taking advantage of that, I don't know what to say. It all comes from having some confidence in themselves and having their heads in the game," Zecca said. "To me the difference in that game was lack of intensity."
Shiprock is off until Jan. 25 when the team travels to face Aztec. Kirtland will host Monument Valley on Thursday.