KIRTLAND — The Kirtland Central boys basketball team used a strong second half to earn its third straight District 1-4A victory.
The Broncos outscored Piedra Vista by 10 during the final two quarters on their way to a 61-47 victory Friday night at Bronco Gym.
"I think we came out with a lot of energy. Our defense was tough," KCHS head coach John Zecca said of his team's play in the second half. "They were having trouble scoring in that third period and that's just a matter of moving our feet and getting hands up on the shooters."
KCHS (16-5, 3-0 District 1-4A) took a 26-22 lead into halftime, and then used a 10-0 run in the middle of the third quarter to get some breathing room.
"I thought we played good defense in that third quarter. We challenged their shots, but they were just knocking them down," PV head coach Adam Huff said. "Then we got dejected and they started out-hustling us. When a good team like that out-hustles you, you're going to be in trouble."
The Broncos then scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to open up a 19-point lead. And they led by double figures for the rest of the game.
Christian Mackey scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to help KCHS seal the win.
"We came in thinking that Christian will get his early, and, if the other guys don't get theirs, then they won't get going. So that's what we were trying to do. We were hoping Christian would do a little bit more in the first half, but he didn't. (Zecca) had a good game plan coming in," Huff said. "He tells the other guys to go get them a lead and keep it close. Then he tells Christian, you're going to finish it off in the second half, and they play it to perfection."
Junior Smith continued his hot shooting for KCHS, hitting 4-of-8 from 3-point range, including two in the first quarter, on his way to 14 points.
"When the shooters make (3-pointers) in the beginning, it boosts everybody's confidence," Mackey said.
Reese Foutz also added 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting for KCHS.
PV's Troy Dixon led the Panthers (13-9, 2-1) with 18 points, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, but Dixon was the only Panther in double figures as the rest of the team hit just 12-of-41 from the field.
Kirtland Central will be in action again on Friday when the team hosts Farmington. The Broncos defeated the Scorpions 51-36 in the first district meeting on Jan. 31 at Farmington High.
"We need to keep playing defense," Zecca said. "I expect another battle. That's just the way it is in this district."
Piedra Vista will be at home Friday against Aztec. The Panthers defeated the Tigers 61-55 in Aztec in their first meeting.
"We're still in a great position. We have two home games the second half of district," Huff said. "If we can steal one from Farmington and protect home court, then we'll get a district playoff."Joshua Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.