FARMINGTON — The Aztec girls basketball team’s defense came up big again in California, holding Fullerton’s Sunny Hills (5-8) to 23 points in a low scoring 33-23 win Monday afternoon in Garden Grove, Calif.
The Lady Tigers opened the tournament on Saturday, blowing by Los Amigos, out of Fountain Valley, Calif., 58-18.
Aztec head coach Robert McCaskill said Monday’s game was played at a slower pace than the team is used to. The team got off to a slow start offensively, but the Lady Tigers (9-2) got things going in the second half.
“We had a little more energy in the second half,” McCaskill said. “We were able to knock down some shots and get some defensive stops.”
Myra McCaskill and Elana Kresl combined to score 22 of the team’s 33 points, scoring 12 and 10, respectively.
Robert McCaskill said the biggest difference between the teams the Lady Tigers have faced in California and their competition in New Mexico is the physicality. He said California teams are more physical and more contact is allowed during the games.
Despite holding teams to a combined 41 points in the first two games at the tournament, McCaskill said the Lady Tigers have room for improvement on defense.
“Defensively, we haven’t hit our stride yet,” McCaskill said. “We’re playing good defense, but we’re still missing assignments. But the big difference for us is our press and coming out and putting pressure on them. The whole team has done a good job defensively.”
The Lady Tigers will close out play in Pool 1 at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, facing the tournament’s host team Rancho Alamitos (3-3).
West Las Vegas 86, Kirtland Central 55
Kirtland Central played into the hands of West Las Vegas, and the Dons took advantage, routing the Broncos 86-55 in the first round of the Stu Clark Tournament on Monday at New Mexico Highlands University’s John A. Wilson Complex in Las Vegas, N.M.
“As good as we executed the game plan (Wednesday) in Gallup is as bad as we executed tonight," said Kirtland Central head coach Brian Dowdy on Monday. "We played right into their transition game and had a lot of turnovers, and if you turn the ball over, they punish you. They’re quick, they’re athletic and they’re well coached.”
The Broncos (1-8) hung with the Dons (8-0) early, but WLV went on a 10-0 run midway through the first quarter and led 46-25 at halftime.
“We started out pretty good, then had a bit of a collapse there, and they made a good run on us. We started the second quarter OK, but got behind quite a bit at halftime, and it kind of snowballed.”
Noah Lee led the Broncos with 13 points. Bryson Dowdy added nine.
The Broncos will face West Mesa (2-5) in the consolation bracket at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Albuquerque 99, Aztec 27
Albuquerque High (5-1) faced little trouble against Aztec in the first round of the Rio Rancho tournament, cruising past the Tigers 99-27 Monday afternoon at Rio Rancho High.
The loss moves the Tigers (1-8) into the tournament’s consolation bracket, where they’ll face Mayfield (3-8) at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Aztec head coach Jeremy Archuleta could not be reached for comment by press time.
Weather forces multiple tournaments to cancel
The Kirtland Central and Aztec boys were among eight area teams scheduled to play in holiday tournaments around New Mexico, but a winter storm prevented the other six teams from competing at their respective tournaments.
The Farmington and Piedra Vista boys were scheduled to play at the Poe Corn Invitational in Roswell this week. Originally scheduled for Monday through Wednesday, the tournament was pushed back one day and rescheduled for Tuesday through Thursday after road conditions were deemed unsafe for teams to travel. Then on Monday, the tournament was canceled as roads were hard packed with snow and ice.
The Farmington and PV girls, along with the Shiprock boys, were set to play at the Clovis boys and girls tournaments, but both were canceled on Sunday as a result of the storm.
The Texico tournament, which the Navajo Prep girls were slated to compete at, was also canceled on Sunday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.