BLOOMFIELD – It was a struggle for the better part of three quarters, but the Bloomfield boys basketball team finished strong on Saturday night and will move on to the 4A state quarterfinals in Albuquerque.
In the fourth quarter, the sixth-seeded Bobcats finally seized control of a back-and-forth game against No. 11 Santa Fe Indian School, outscoring the visitors 21-7 en route to a 76-54 win at Bobcat Gym.
Bloomfield (20-7) went into halftime ahead by only 2 points. The full-court press of Santa Fe Indian (15-15) was problematic for the Bobcats, but more so than that, Bloomfield coach Devon Manning thought his team shot itself in the foot far too often.
"For the most part, those turnovers were just silly, silly turnovers," Manning said. "We didn't realize that they had quick hands, and whatever pass you were going to make, they were going to try and deflect it."
Bloomfield's press-breaker finally triumphed toward the end of the third quarter. The hosts managed easy layup after easy layup, which opened up the long-range game.
Malachi Pablo, Adriano Stevenson and Damion Sanchez each buried triples for Bloomfield in the third period to extend the lead to 8 by the end of the quarter, the largest lead of the night at that point.
The Braves then stopped making shots in the fourth, and every time they went to the rim, they were met with some tough post defense from Bloomfield.
Brendon Charley scored a game-high 22 points. He went seven of eight from the free-throw line. Pablo added 17 points and drained three 3-pointers.
No. 3 West Las Vegas awaits Bloomfield at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center. The Bobcats were destroyed by WLV 73-39 on Jan. 14. Manning said he thinks his team will be more prepared this time around.
"The key with us is the turnovers to layups. And when we played them, that's all they were doing, is turning us over into layups," he said. "In the second half, we played pretty even with them. So now, we shouldn't be scared — we've seen these guys."
Portales 81, Kirtland Central 71
Tenth-seeded Kirtland Central's season came to a halt at the hands of No. 7 Portales on Saturday, which pulled away late to top KC 81-71 on the road.
The Broncos were aggressive early, creating a 12-point lead by continually slashing to the basket. But Portales (18-9) came back and made a game of it.
The score at halftime was 36-36. After the break, Kirtland Central (12-16) came unglued a bit.
"We had a rough third quarter," KC coach Brian Dowdy said. "We had a lot of turnovers, and Bernel (Miller) got a couple of tough calls against him."
Miller eventually fouled out of the game. The third quarter was KC's worst, yet the Broncos still only trailed by 8 by the start of the fourth.
But Jr. Ramirez took over the game for the Rams by hitting four of his five 3-pointers in the game's most crucial quarter.
The energy level throughout was high on both sides, according to Dowdy, who thanked his seniors for their leadership after the game.
"Our seniors have been at camps, they've been at our middle schoolers' games — I mean, you name it," Dowdy said. "They've led our program in the right direction on and off the court."
Dowdy said his No. 1 goal when taking the job at KC two years ago was for his team to play hard all of the time. He said he felt like he got that out of his squad in 2015-2016.
Bryson Dowdy led the Broncos in scoring against Portales with 18 points. Ty Yellowman scored 15, and Riley Hamblin added 11.
Silver 81, Shiprock 60
The 12th-seeded Chieftains also played their final game of the season on Saturday after losing an opening-round road game to No. 5 Silver by a final score of 81-60.
Points were hard to come by for Shiprock (17-13), and when opportunities for easy buckets arose, the Chieftains didn't capitalize on them.
"We couldn't get our offense going. They rattled us in terms of not allowing us to get set," Shiprock coach Chester Atcitty said. "We missed a lot of close shots and then couldn't set anything up, either."
Silver (19-7) was the aggressor on Saturday. The Fighting Colts exploded to the hoop all night, according to Atcitty.
The third quarter also wasn't kind to the visitors, who dropped the frame 22-10 to Silver to essentially kill any comeback hopes.
Andre Joe scored 23 points for Shiprock and Elijiah Harry netted 17. Atcitty said the loss stings, but he still considers this season a success.
"It was a great run. I think we finished a lot higher than most people expected," he said. "Especially with the way the end of the season and district went. We gave it our best effort — that's all you can really ask for."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.