FARMINGTON — The Shiprock Lady Chieftains stretched their winning streak to 17 games on Thursday.
Shiprock (17-0) had no problem handling Hot Springs (1-12) in the opening round of the Hope Christian Invitational tournament. The Lady Chiefs dominated from start to finish en route to a 62-23 victory.
The Lady Chiefs led 43-8 at halftime and were able to play their bench players during the entire second half.
The win sets up a game against Los Lunas (7-3) in the semifinal round of the three-day tournament. Los Lunas, the defending Class 4A state champions, defeated West Las Vegas early Thursday morning to advance.
Defending 6-foot-2-inch senior forward Teige Zeller will be the biggest challenge for Shiprock, which doesn't have a player on the roster touching 6-feet tall.
"It is going to be a fast-paced game. It will be exciting," said Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson of the looming matchup with Los Lunas. "They press a lot, and we press a lot. If we box out like we are supposed to, I think we should be OK."
Amber McKay led Shiprock with 12 points in Thursday's win. Shania Harry and Tanisha Begay each added 10 more points in the victory.
Henderson said another win today against the Lady Tigers of Los Lunas would go a long way in adding respect for his team.
"A lot of the teams down here know about our record. They are excited and happy for us, it sounds like. But they want to beat us," he said.
This tournament is the final big challenge left on Shiprock's schedule. If the Lady Chiefs can get past Los Lunas, a game against Hope Christian is likely on Saturday. Hope Christian (11-2) is ranked No. 4 on MaxPreps.com, one spot below Shiprock.
The Lady Huskies are the last team to beat Shiprock. That loss came in last year's Class 3A state semifinal game.
"It would be nice to come out on top after these next two days," Henderson said.
Bloomfield teams fall in first round
Both the Bloomfield boys' and girls' teams also opened play in the Hope Christian Invite on Thursday.
It was a tough day for the Bobcats as the girls lost to Taos 45-30 and the boys fell to Socorro 56-54.
Bloomfield's boys led 19-12 after one quarter, but a poor second quarter cost the Bobcats (3-12).
"We had a good first quarter, but the second really hurt us. We missed too many close shots under the basket and open jumpers," said Bobcats' head coach Devon Manning.
Christian Chavez led Bloomfield with 13 points in the loss.
Bloomfield made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter after going down 11 points in the quarter.
"We just ran out of time. It was too late, an we had no timeouts to help us," Manning said.
Bloomfield's boys will play Hot Springs in the consolation bracket at 10:30 a.m. today.
In the girls' game, Shaelyn White led the Lady Bobcats (3-11) with 11 points, scoring seven of those in the fourth quarter.
"We made a run to cut the game to 10 points, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half," said Lady Bobcats coach Tom Adair. "Taos played well, and they were hungry for a win. They are a pretty good team, but we could have played better."
The Lady Bobcats will face Socorro in the consolation bracket at 9 a.m. today.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.