KIRTLAND — This season has been a roller coaster ride for the Kirtland Central Lady Broncos.

The team went 40 days without picking up a victory, losing seven straight games in December and early January, but Kirtland responded when it mattered most.

Lady Broncos won all seven matchups against their District 1-4A opponents to clinch another Kirtland girls basketball district title.

Kirtland lost 13 of its first 17 games of the season, and after getting off to such a poor start, it would have been easy for the Lady Broncos lose hope, but Kirtland head coach Kevin Holman credits the heart and perseverance of his team as the reasons they continued to battle through all the tough losses.

"They never gave up," Holman said. "I told them when we had the district title plaque in our hands on Saturday that we all could have quit, and we all could have rolled over and died, but each and every day, they came to practice and worked and knew that if they kept staying at it that the district title was in their hopes."

Two keys to the district title were the play of senior Taylor Billey and junior Keeshawna Ockerman.

Ockerman scored 14 points in the tournament title game against Piedra Vista while Billey chipped eight points and found her teammates for open shots on numerous occasions.

Ockerman said her teammate's passing ability as one of the main reasons Kirtland played so well during the district season.


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"Her ball-handing and ability to get us open with her drives to the basket really help us to score," she said of Billey.

Billey, who is the granddaughter is Navajo Code Talker Wilfred Billey, sees Ockerman's athleticism as a big asset to the Lady Broncos.

"She gives us that extra drive," Billey said. "She'll do a spin move and what we call the Keeshawna jump' where she jumps for her jump shot and hangs in the air."

Both girls agreed that the Lady Broncos' play began to pick up during a loss to St. Pius X prior to the start of the district season.

"I think that game was the first time we really gelled," Billey said. "It was the first time we really worked together. We lost that game, but the only thing that wasn't working for us was getting the ball to go in."

Holman couldn't be prouder of Billey, Ockerman and all the Lady Broncos for the way they were able to fight back from adversity all season.

"It tells you what kind of young women they are going to be when they get out of high school and college," Holman said of his team. "Athletics is a lifetime lesson, and when you're knocked down at 4-13, especially here at Kirtland Central where they aren't used to it. We're talking 19 state championships, they aren't used to it. The community might have been saying stuff, but these girls stuck together. They had one goal. That was to be district champs, and they achieved it."

Joshua Perry may be reached at jperry@daily-times.com; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.

10 Questions with Taylor Billey

Favorite food?

  • Peanut butter sandwiches.

    Favorite music?

  • Jack Johnson.

    If you could have any superpower, which one would you pick?

  • Super speed.

    Favorite thing to do in your free time?

  • Spend time with my nephew.

    Favorite class?

  • Calculus.

    Favorite team?

  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

    Favorite athlete?

  • Skylar Diggins.

    Favorite movie?

  • Pitch Perfect.

    What is your dream job?

  • Neurosurgeon.

    My dream vacation would be ...

  • Italy.

    10 Questions with Keeshawna Ockerman

    Favorite food?

  • Chinese.

    Favorite music?

  • Country.

    If you could have any superpower, which one would you pick?

  • Flight.

    Favorite thing to do in your free time?

  • Be a couch potato.

    Favorite class?

  • History.

    Favorite team?

  • Los Angeles Lakers.

    Favorite athlete?

  • Kobe Bryant.

    Favorite movie?

  • Tangled.

    What is your dream job?

  • Dental hygienist.

    My dream vacation would be ...

  • Hawaii.