FARMINGTON — A slow offensive start didn't hold the Shiprock Lady Chieftains back from winning their 13th consecutive game to start the 2013-14 season.
Shiprock shot just better than 32 percent from the floor in the first half, including a dismal 2-for-12 start in the first quarter. That helped the Piedra Vista Lady Panthers get out to a 13-4 lead after one quarter and a 21-20 halftime lead at home on Tuesday night.
Still, it wasn't enough for PV to hold back Shiprock as the Lady Chieftains stormed back to earn a 62-51 victory.
"It was a great game. We needed that game," said Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson. "It is tough coming on the road and playing here. It was fun, and we all enjoyed it."
The two teams went back-and-forth in the third quarter as Shiprock went into the final eight minutes of the game leading 41-36. The Lady Chiefs (13-0) wouldn't be stopped in the fourth quarter as they outscored Piedra Vista (7-5) 21-15 to seal the game.
"We were disappointed with the way we played from the beginning," said Shiprock senior guard Taylor Henderson. "When we came back out of halftime, we battled through and made our shots underneath the basket."
Taylor Henderson came up big when the game was in the balance, scoring seven of her 10 points in the final quarter. She also crashed the boards for valuable rebounds while also finding open teammates with passes for easy baskets.
"I just pushed myself that fourth quarter. As a senior, my dad always says to treat every game like it is your last. I just pushed myself," Taylor Henderson said.
Shjantel Grey added another six points in the fourth quarter to also finish with 10 points for Shiprock. Aranxta Curley scored six of her nine points in the final quarter as well.
Free-throw shooting cost Piedra Vista its chance of knocking off the unbeaten Lady Chiefs. The Lady Panthers shot just 11-for-26 from the foul line, including 0-for-6 on the front-end of one-and-one situations.
"Our game plan was perfect. We were ahead at halftime and had a lead in the third quarter. That's all we can ask for," said PV head coach Joe Reed. "We didn't want to give up any 3s, and I think they only hit one there late. Our problem was we shot ourselves in the foot by not making a dang free throw."
Kieyoomia Benally scored a game-high 17 points for Piedra Vista. Kaleigh Graham had another 16 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
Shiprock shot the ball much better in the second half, going 16-of-25 from the field.
"I told the girls to just let go of the ball. We were concentrating and dribbling too much," Larenson Henderson said. "I told them to just calm down and take their shots like they are supposed to. The girls calmed down and the ball began to fall."
Strong pressure defense once again benefitted Shiprock, which forced 20 PV turnovers in the game.
For PV, it was a big improvement from a 65-39 loss at Shiprock on Dec. 13.
"We wanted to play the game in the low 40s or 50s. We almost got it there, but Shiprock is a great team. We went toe-to-toe with them, and I think we showed we can play with them," Reed said. 'We did everything but make free throws."
Piedra Vista is back in action Thursday at Miyamura. Shiprock will play in the Kirtland Central tournament this weekend beginning on Thursday.
Kirtland Central 48, Durango 45
The Kirtland Central Lady Broncos picked up a road win in Colorado on Tuesday.
KCHS defeated Durango High 48-45 behind Keeshawna Ockerman's 18 points. Aubri Blueeyes added another 15 points in the win.
The Lady Broncos (3-9) host a tournament this weekend beginning with a game against Bloomfield on Thursday night.
Navajo Prep 45, Farmington 41
The Lady Eagles picked up their second win against a District 1-4A opponent this season by beating Farmington on Tuesday.
Navajo Prep (6-6) defeated the Farmington Lady Scorpions (6-7) 45-41 thanks to tough rebounding down the stretch.
"We had great defense. Keona Leano really did a great job getting offensive rebounds and put backs there at the end, too," said Navajo Prep head coach Rainy Crisp.
Crisp said her team played unselfish basketball on the offensive end of the floor. That created easy opportunities to score in the paint.
"They passed and played to get each other open. It was great to see," Crisp said.
Navajo Prep is now 2-1 this season against District 1-4A teams with wins against Kirtland Central and Farmington and a loss to Piedra Vista.
Meeya Yazzie led Farmington with 12 points. Shayna Carlowe had 11 for the Lady Scorps in the loss.
"We got it down to a two-point lead for Prep. We had an open look, but we just came up a little bit short," said FHS head coach Danny Secrest. "The girls played their hearts out. I liked the effort."
Farmington will open up the Kirtland Central tournament against Grants on Thursday.
Navajo Prep is back in action tonight in its District 1-2A opener on the road at Navajo Pine.
"The wins against Farmington and Kirtland Central are great, but district is what is important for us. We have to come in with a mentality to be strong from here on out," Crisp said. "Wins are important, and we need to start strong."
Aztec 55, Bloomfield 48
The Aztec Lady Tigers picked up a nice road win against a rival on Tuesday night.
The Lady Tigers (3-6) defeated Bloomfield 55-48.
"It was a real good win for the girls' confidence," said Aztec head coach Robert McCaskill. "We fought off sickness and illness, stayed focused and pulled it out at the end."
Aztec was led by Morgan Smith's 16 points. Jessica Kresl added another 11 points in the win.
The Lady Tigers were 14-of-22 from the free-throw line in the game while Bloomfield (3-6) was just 3-for-12.
"That was the difference. We have gotta make our free throws and quit fouling the other team I guess," said Bloomfield head coach Tom Adair.
Adair was proud of his team's effort. Jasmine Sappington had 18 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in the loss. Shaelyn White had a game-high 20 points in the loss.
Bloomfield will play Kirtland Central in the first round of Kirtland's tournament on Thursday. Aztec is off until Jan. 16 against Wingate after a game this week with Santa Fe was postponed until February.John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.