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FARMINGTON – The Kirtland Central boys basketball team gave Gallup all it could handle, but in the final minute of the game, the Bengals held off the Broncos for a 61-57 win Wednesday night in Gallup.

After a rough second quarter, KC trailed 30-21 at halftime, but the Broncos answered head coach Brian Dowdy’s challenge and rallied in the third quarter.

“The third quarter, we stormed back,” Dowdy said. “We tightened up our defense and had better offensive execution. We had a lineup in that I never would have dreamed would work, but I’ve been telling the boys all year that I think we’re 12 (players) deep, we just have to play together.”

By the end of the third quarter, the Broncos had pulled even with the Bengals at 41.

The fourth quarter stayed close, and trailing by two points with 50 seconds remaining, KC’s Bernell Miller got an open look from beyond the 3-point line, but his shot rattled in and out. Gallup then made a pair of free throws to extend its lead to 4 points and held on for the win.

Dowdy said the Broncos (1-6) did a great job on the boards and outrebounded the Bengals (8-4).

“We’ve been working on that since the Los Lunas game, which was the first game of the season, and we rebounded fantastic tonight,” Dowdy said.

Noah Lee and Bryson Dowdy led the Broncos with 10 points each.

KC will have the next four days off before going to Las Vegas, N.M., to face West Las Vegas (7-0) in the first round of the Stu Clark Invitational.

“It doesn’t get easier for us, but we like it that way. It was a good recipe for us last year, and the boys are getting better and better. We’re up for the challenge,” Dowdy said. “They’re a joy to work with, and they’re going to be something special. I have a lot of faith in these kids, and I think we’re going to be a top-tier team when it’s all said and done.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.

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