RIO RANCHO — The Shiprock boys basketball team put up a fight against No. 2 St. Michael's, but, in the end, the Horsemen's size advantage took over.

St. Mike's came back from a 13-point, first-half deficit to knock the No. 10 Chieftains out of the 3A quarterfinals with a 57-49 victory on Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho.

After the Chieftains held Horsemen forwards Justin Flores and Isaiah Dominguez to eight points in the first half, the duo scored 20 in the final two quarters to help St. Mike's escape with the win.

"They just did a really awesome job of posting up," Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. said.

Shiprock (20-11) opened the game red-hot, jumping on the Horsemen (23-7) with a 14-3 run to start the game.

Shiprock High School’s Justin Begay (20) shoots around St. Michael’s Bradley Vaughanl (24) during the 3A quarterfinals on Wednesday at the
Shiprock High School's Justin Begay (20) shoots around St. Michael's Bradley Vaughanl (24) during the 3A quarterfinals on Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho. (Jesse Hankins/Special to The Daily Times)

After taking an 18-7 lead after one quarter, the Chieftains kept the lead in double digits for large portions of the second, eventually taking a 10-point advantage into halftime.

"Getting the jump on them was very crucial," Atcitty said.

In the second half, the Horsemen exploited their size advantage on nearly every possession, rarely shooting from outside the paint.

St. Mike's took its first lead late in the third quarter at 34-33 and stayed ahead the rest of the game.

"We felt with time we'd eventually get back in the game," Horsemen head coach Ron Geyer said. "All we talked about in the locker room was offense."

Shiprock fell behind by as many as 11 in the fourth and trimmed the deficit to five on a couple of occasions, but the Chieftains were unable to find the energy to complete the comeback.

The Chieftains went cold in the second half, making just 4-of-25 from the field in the final two quarters.

"We didn't finish. We got looks, but sometimes that happens in this game," Atcitty said. "The ball just didn't fall in the hoop."

Flores finished with a game-high 17 points and nine rebound, while Dominguez added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Andre Joe scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the first half, battling in the paint with the two Horsemen forwards throughout the game despite a three-inch size disadvantage.

"It's a promising future for him," Atcitty said of Joe, a sophomore.

Hiram Gleason added 11 points, and Justin Begay finished with 10 in their final games for the Chieftains.

"It was something special what we had," Begay said. "We worked hard and got better each year."

Darryle Nelson Jr. and Lemuel Begay also finished out their Shiprock careers in the loss.

St. Mike's will advance to face No. 6 Lovington on Friday after the Wildcats upset No. 3 Silver on Wednesday.

Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and jperry@daily-times.com. Follow him @jperrysuu on Twitter.