In a very low-scoring game Thursday night in Bloomfield, the Bobcats defense tamed the Broncos en route to a 35-26 win.
"It was a really good win for us. Our guys played real hard," said Bloomfield head coach Devon Manning. "Our guys could have crumbled a few times, but they picked it up and made the plays they needed to win."
Bloomfield (6-12) led Kirtland Central (8-11) 13-9 at halftime. The Broncos scored only four more points in the third quarter, trailing the Bobcats 22-13 after three quarters.
"We shot the ball terrible — just 23 percent," said Kirtland Central head coach John Zecca. "We had no points in the first quarter. That is a first for me.
"As bad as we shot the ball, we were only down four at the half. We didn't respond in the third quarter, though, and we only scored four points. We couldn't get anything going all night."
Zecca credited Bloomfield's hustle on defense for shutting down his team's offense, but said the team had opportunities and simply couldn't knock down shots.
"Nobody could make one. They played their zone defense, and have really gotten better at it, but when a team does that you have to make your open shots," Zecca said. "Give it to Bloomfield, they rebounded very well and limited our chances.
Kirtland Central trimmed Bloomfield's lead to just one point with under two minutes to play, but the Bobcats went on another run to extend the lead and come away with the win.
"Kirtland went to the free-throw line to try and tie it but missed and we got the board," Manning said. 'We could have folded when Kirtland made that run, but the guys stuck together."
Manning called the defensive effort his team's best all season.
On the other end of the floor, Manning told his team to be patient against Kirtland Central's zone defense and wait for open looks of their own.
"They zoned us a bit, and I told the guys to be patient. I told them it was fine to take a minute and a half off the clock if it meant we got good shots," Manning said. "We didn't want to force anything."
Ryan Johnson led Bloomfield with 11 points while Kirtland Central's Christian Mackey scored a game-high 12 points.
It was the third time this season the two teams have squared off, with Kirtland taking the previous two matchups 54-30 and 51-43.
"You are going to have nights like this. It is very tough to beat a team three times in one season, especially when the third time is on their court," Zecca said. "It is not a good way for us to go into our Saturday game with St. Pius, but at least we will have home court where we have been a lot better."
The Broncos face the No. 3-ranked Sartans at home Saturday. Bloomfield is back in action tonight at Piedra Vista.
"I told the guys to be happy about this win tonight because they deserve to feel good about this win after our losing streak," Manning said. "But when they wake up in the morning, it has to be all about PV. I hope we take our energy and momentum from this win right back into the gym at PV."
Navajo Prep 77, Tohatchi 55
Navajo Prep and Tohatchi had no problem scoring Thursday night inside the Eagle's Nest.
The Lady Eagles secured a 77-55 home win against Tohatchi to move to 2-1 in District 1-2A and 7-7 overall.
"We really pulled away in the third and fourth quarters. The same things we have been battling all year came up tonight, and we are still trying to clean it up," said Prep head coach Rainy Crisp. "We had 26 turnovers, shot terrible from the line and missed way too many shots under the basket."
Still, the Lady Eagles had well-rounded scoring with Leilani Howe leading the team with 15 points on five 3-point baskets.
"Howe had three of those 3s in the fourth quarter, which is what pulled us ahead," Crisp said.
Matheney Wilson added another 11 points, nine of them coming from behind the 3-point line as Navajo Prep took advantage of open shots from outside against Tohatchi's zone defense.
Crisp said if the team can put together a game with fewer turnovers, more layups and the outside shooting it saw Thursday, the Lady Eagles will be "unstoppable."
"Our mistakes are all mental. We just have to come out more focused and put it all together," she said.
The Lady Eagles are in action again Saturday at home against Ramah.