FARMINGTON — The only way for the Kirtland Central girls basketball team to make the 4A state playoffs was win the District 1-4A tournament title.
The Lady Broncos did just that, winning three games in five days capped off by a 66-60 victory against top seed Piedra Vista on Saturday night at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.
"It means a lot. To take this championship is just awesome," KCHS coach Rochelle Curry said. "They've earned it and have been working hard."
KCHS (10-18) entered the game ranked No. 18 by MaxPreps.com and had the 19th best record overall in Class 4A, making it highly unlikely the Lady Broncos would have been included in the 16-team tournament field with a loss.
But KCHS didn't leave its inclusion in the playoffs in the hands of the selection committee as Keeshawna Ockerman scored a game-high 18 points to lead the Lady Broncos in securing the automatic bid.
"I just wanted to attack and try to score so we could get the momentum," Ockerman said.
KCHS opened up a 14-9 lead after the first quarter and led the remainder of the contest.
PV (18-9) made a run late in the fourth quarter, cutting the KCHS lead to as few as three points, but never could overtake the Lady Broncos.
The KCHS offense shot well throughout the game, making 22-of-41 field goal, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the win.
"We knew coming in that they were shooting the basketball (well)," PV head coach Joe Reed said. "I thought we played pretty good defense, but they just knocked down shots. You've got to hand it to Kirtland. They came to play."
Deiondra Smith added 16 points, and Orquidea Reyes finished with 15 points in the victory.
"We just wanted to attack the basket as much as we could," said Smith, who hit 5-of-9 from the field.
Kaleigh Graham hit 7-of-11 from the field to finish with a team-high 16 points for PV in the loss.
Kieyoomia Benally chipped in 14 points, and Precious Frank added 11 for the Lady Panthers.
Both team will find out today where they'll be seated in the playoff bracket.
KCHS will likely end up as the No. 16 seed and face off with Los Lunas or Santa Fe.
"Even if we are the 16 seed, we're still in, and we're going to do our best," Curry said.
PV is still hopefully they'll be the No. 8 seed and get to host a first-round playoff game.
"I think tonight's going to hurt us a little bit," Reed said. "I'm hoping for an eight (seed), but we could fall."
Navajo Prep 51, Ramah 44
The Lady Eagles (22-6) knocked off Ramah (20-9) on Saturday night at the Eagle's Nest to add the District 1-2A tournament title to their regular season crown.
Jasmine Coleman led Prep with 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists as the Lady Eagles battled past a tough Lady Mustangs' squad.
"It was a close game all the way through," Prep head coach Rainy Crisp said. "We were able to the keep the lead there at the end and get the win."
Muriel Waukazoo also added 11 points in the victory, and her defense really helped the Lady Eagles, Crisp said.
"Muriel did a great job for us defensively," Crisp said. "I just have to give credit to the whole team for stepping up and getting stops."
The Lady Eagles came into the game ranked No. 4 in 2A and will likely start their state playoff run with a home game next week.
"Staying home is great. Everybody knows it's easier to play on their home court," Crisp said. "We know we'll have to be ready though for whoever comes here."Joshua Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.