KIRTLAND — A 17-5 run to begin the second quarter was all Shiprock needed to gain separation from rival Kirtland Central on Tuesday night.
The Shiprock Lady Chieftains (2-0) led the Kirtland Central Lady Broncos 11-10 after one quarter but jumped out to a 28-15 lead quickly in the second quarter before finishing the half up 32-23. Shiprock cruised in the second half to a 64-48 win.
"It was great to be here again. It is like a second home for me," said Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson, who was an assistant on the Lady Broncos' staff during the 2011-12 state championship season. "They gave me a shot, and to come here and go against my rival coach (Kevin) Holman ... it feels great."
Larenson Henderson's daughter, Taylor, who helped the Lady Broncos win the title in 2012, sparked the Lady Chieftains in the second quarter when she scored 11 of her 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
"I think we needed to find our chemistry with each other because we didn't like how we played in the beginning," Taylor Henderson said. "To us, it was really sloppy."
Sloppy was a good word for the first quarter as Kirtland Central turned the ball over seven times. Both teams struggled with turnovers throughout the game as the Lady Broncos finished with 23 and Shiprock had 17.
"We faced a zone from Kirtland, and we haven't really gone over a zone or anything like that yet. Our girls are used to playing at a high pace in man-to-man. We hit a zone like that, and it bothered us," Larenson Henderson said. "We are committing to team-play, and the ball is moving around a lot more, but we do want to attack the basket a little bit more than we did. Especially our seniors need to be more aggressive and want to score more."
Shiprock built upon its nine-point halftime lead by out-scoring the Lady Broncos 17-9 in the third quarter. The Lady Chiefs were sparked by Ashley John's nine points in that third quarter. John finished the game with 13 points.
Kirtland Central was led by Megan Silversmith's 13 points. The Lady Broncos were hampered by poor free-throw shooting, finishing the game just 13-for-37 at the line.
"Free throws killed us. You are going to turn the ball over to their relentless pressure, but free throws especially hurt us," said Kirtland Central head coach Kevin Holman. "We started four sophomores out there. Overall, I think they did a pretty good job against the best team in our area and a top two or three team in Class 3A."
Deiondra Smith, Orquidea Reyes, Shamika Benally and Keeshawna Ockerman all had seven points in the loss for Kirtland Central.
It was the first game for the Lady Broncos after their season opener was postponed due to weather two weeks ago. The Lady Broncos are now faced with 10 games before the winter break.
Holman missed the last two practices as he continues to undergo treatment for cancer. He credited his assistant coaches for doing a good job preparing the girls.
Kirtland Central will prepare for a three-day tournament in Gallup this weekend while Shiprock will host a tournament of its own.
"I just want us to gain more chemistry and work on playing at a higher tempo," Taylor Henderson said.John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.