Lady Tigers win again, advance to tourney final
Kirtland Central, Aztec boys lose big
FARMINGTON – Freshman Jesse Gillentine has bounced around between the junior varsity and varsity Aztec girls basketball teams this season, but she might have found a permanent home after her performance on Tuesday afternoon.
With her team trailing by a point with less than three minutes to go in the game, Gillentine hit a 3-pointer to put the Lady Tigers ahead by two. They would never relinquish that lead en route to the 53-49 win over Rancho Alamitos, Calif., (4-4) on the third day of the Garden Grove Tournament in Garden Grove, Calif.
Now 3-0 in the four-day tourney, Aztec (10-2) will play for the championship against Exeter, Calif., at 4:30 p.m. today.
Aztec coach Robert McCaskill said Gillentine was a spark off the bench for his team.
"She came in and played solid defense and knocked down some open shots," he said.
Gillentine was second on the team in scoring with 9 points. She came through in the clutch, scoring 7 of those in the fourth quarter.
Elana Kresl continued her solid week by scoring a team-high 13 points for Aztec, which has now won seven straight games.
The Lady Tigers started hot with 20 points in the first quarter before cooling down and settling for a 6-point halftime lead.
McCaskill said adjusting to the shot clock they play with in Garden Grove has been tough, but his girls did what they do best late in the game.
"(Rancho Alamitos) did a good job making some adjustments after halftime, and we got lost a bit offensively," McCaskill said. "But we got back to playing solid defense, and we hit some timely buckets."
West Mesa 63, Kirtland Central 43
The early-season struggles continued for the Broncos on Tuesday when they were beaten handily by West Mesa 63-43 at the 62nd Annual Stu Clark Tournament in Las Vegas, N.M.
After going on a 12-4 run to start the game, Kirtland Central (1-8) started to lose momentum when West Mesa hit a buzzer-beating shot at the end of the first quarter to make it a 2-point game.
The Mustangs (3-5) then took control in the second quarter with a 27-5 run.
KC coach Brian Dowdy said he thought a lack of effort was a problem on Tuesday.
"Whether they realized it or not, effort was an issue," Dowdy said. "We were lazy on defense, we turned it over a lot and we forced too many shots."
Senior center Noah Lee led the Broncos in scoring with 16 points.
KC lost by 30 to West Las Vegas on Monday and is in danger of finishing in last place in the tournament. The Broncos will try to salvage the Las Vegas trip today when they play Miyamura at 1 p.m. for seventh place.
Mayfield 76, Aztec 48
The Tigers had another rough go of it on Tuesday, the second day of the Rio Rancho Tournament, falling 76-48 to Mayfield.
Aztec (1-8) was more competitive on Tuesday than it was on the first day of the tournament, when it lost by 72 points. Still, the experience advantage for Mayfield (3-5) was the difference down the stretch.
"The second half, we stuck to our game plan, but they just put some excellent pressure on us and attacked our youth," Aztec coach Jeremy Archuleta said.
Aztec hung with the Trojans for much of the first half, but let the game get out of hand late.
"Mayfield has some big guys with varsity experience," Archuleta said. "We just got pushed around in the paint."
Like Kirtland, Aztec will look to avoid last place in the tourney when it takes on Socorro, Texas, at 1 p.m. today in the seventh-place game.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.