Bloomfield stuns PV on Walther’s buzzer-beater

Walther's 24 points, game-winning layup help Lady Bobcats score the win

Jake Newby
jnewby@pnj.com

FARMINGTON – Destiny Walther capped a monster game for the Bloomfield girls basketball team Thursday by sinking a buzzer-beating layup at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington to hand Piedra Vista just its second loss of the season.

With the game tied at 57 with less than six seconds to go, Bloomfield gathered a rebound following a pair of missed free throws by the Lady Panthers and ran a perfect fast break. Walther caught a pass inside and hit the game-winner as time expired to give the Lady Bobcats the 59-57 road win.

Walther scored 24 points to lead all scorers and registered double-digit rebounds. She said the game against PV (7-2) was one she and her teammates had their eyes on for a while.

The Bloomfield girls basketball team celebrates its 59-57 win over Piedra Vista on Thursday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

“We wanted to come in here and conquer PV,” she said. “That was my team’s goal and that was my goal, and we did it. We’ve come a long way.”

The game was neck and neck from beginning to end. Bloomfield (4-1) had a field day in the paint, as Walther, Mattie Waresback and Brandi Alcantar all were able to get to the rim at will.

Bloomfield junior Destiny Walther shoots during a game against Piedra Vista on Thursday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

The Lady Panthers still managed to enter halftime with a 34-29 lead despite what coach Joe Reed described as a poor defensive performance in the interior.

“Bloomfield was better than us tonight. They executed what they wanted to do,” Reed said. “They were living inside. We were helping too much and not helping the helper, and they shot layup after layup all night.”

The game may not have been close at all without Nykki Benally’s strong second half. PV’s senior guard scored 11 of her team-high 21 points after the break and also chipped in with 7 assists. She knocked down two pivotal 3-pointers inside the game’s final four minutes to keep her team in it.

Benally’s last triple put PV ahead 57-56, at which point the Lady Bobcats were able to get to the free-throw line to hit one of two shots and tie the game.

With a little more than a minute to go, Reed opted to have his team hold the ball and try for the game-winning score with as little time as possible on the game clock.

He got the look he wanted, as freshman Alexis Long put a shot up in the paint and was fouled with 6.5 seconds remaining.

Bloomfield coach Tom Adair called timeout after the foul in an effort to ice the free-throw shooter, and it worked.

Long missed both shots from the line, and Bloomfield did a masterful job of getting the ball upcourt into Walther’s hands for the game-winner.

“We called a timeout to kind of ice the shooter, and we wanted to run the fast break,” Adair said. “And we did that to perfection. We run that play every day in practice.”

Alcantar and Waresback combined to score 19 points for the Lady Bobcats, who outscored PV 16-9 in the fourth quarter. Walther balanced her offense by netting 12 points in each half. Adair said she keeps getting better and better.

“She’s one of our leaders, our captains, a returning starter and someone who averaged 16 points per game in district last season,” Adair said of Walther. “She had a great tournament in Laguna, then she had a very good game for us tonight against great competition.”

Bloomfield will host Bayfield, Colo., (2-2) tonight. The Lady Panthers get 11 days off before playing Lovington in the Clovis Tournament on Dec. 28.

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

Piedra Vista's Nykki Benally attempts a shot against Bloomfield on Thursday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.