SHIPROCK — Christian Mackey came in with the size advantage against Shiprock, and the Kirtland Central big man put it to good use.
The Broncos' senior scored 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as KCHS defeated the Chieftains 68-58 on Tuesday night at the Chieftain Pit.
"It was really important to take advantage of that mismatch," said Mackey, who had a three-inch height advantage on the tallest Chieftain. "Bud (Willie) was big down there, too. They weren't really able to guard him either. We just had a heyday down there."
Willie added 12 points on 5-of-9 from the field, while Mackey was 14-of-20 in the Broncos win.
Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. knew coming into the contest that the Chieftains would have a difficult time contending with the Broncos' size advantage.
"When you have a big guy like that you have to take advantage of him," Atcitty said. "We guarded them fairly well, but in a moment of urgency they'd throw it up in the air, and when you got an athletic guy like that to go get it, you can't really stop that."
The Broncos (12-4) built a 14-11 lead after the first quarter after using a 7-0 run early to gain control of the game.
The Chieftains fought back early in the second to take a 16-15 lead, but after that, KCHS led the remainder of the game.
Despite having the lead the entire second half, KCHS never put the Chieftains away, as Shiprock (11-6) kept the game within 6 to 12 points through most of the final 16 minutes.
"It's always going to be an emotional, exciting game (with Shiprock)," Zecca said. "This one lived up to it. We withstood a barrage of threes."
The KCHS zone forced the Chieftains into a lot of jump shots and kept Shiprock out of the paint. The Chieftains could take advantage of the open looks however, hitting just 11-of-31 as a team from 3-point range.
"When you play zone, you're going to give up some 3-point looks. You just have to withstand it sometimes," Zecca said. "We knew they'd make some runs, but the key was not panicking."
Shiprock leading scorers Justin Begay and Hiram Gleason were able get their points, but the KCHS defense made them work.
Begay scored 21 on 7-of-19 shooting, while Gleason added 18 on 5-of-13 from the field.
"Justin and Hiram are two of the best players in the area in my opinion," Zecca said. "They're going to get their points. We just had to withstand it."
Deron Johnson hit 4-of-10 from 3-point range on his way to 13 points for the Chieftains.
Kirtland Central will be in action next on Friday when the Broncos host Los Lunas.
"We just need to correct the mistakes we made tonight and come in even stronger," Mackey said.
Shiprock will be off until Tuesday when the team travels to Kirtland for a rematch with the Broncos.