Kirtland Central bounces back by besting Miyamura
FARMINGTON – The Aztec girls basketball team is coming home from California with a championship trophy.
The Lady Tigers went 4-0 in the silver division of the Garden Grove Tournament in Garden Grove, Calif., this week, capped by a 46-19 win over Exeter, Calif., on Wednesday in the tourney final.
The offense wasn't always there for Aztec, but the defense was, as evidenced by the 5-3 second quarter that the Lady Tigers came out on top of on Wednesday.
Aztec coach Robert McCaskill said he was happy to win the tourney, but he wasn't anywhere close to content with his team's play on offense.
"I feel good, we almost played four quarters — we only played three," he said. "Our offense is coming along slower than our defense."
Aztec (11-2) took a 17-7 lead into halftime, when McCaskill made one particular adjustment, which was to get his post offense more involved.
The tweak worked, as Aztec ran away from Exeter (9-5) in the second half with scoring contributions from the entire team.
Sophomore Grace Olsen led the way with 16 points. Jesse Gillentine had 7.
Elana Kresl, who had scored in double figures in each of Aztec's first three games in California, was held to just 3 points. McCaskill said the Lady Monarchs were very physical with Kresl after watching her play all week.
"(Exeter) has been scouting her ever since we got here," McCaskill said. "They played Elana tight. They denied, tried to double her and contain her, and it worked. But she still played very good defense."
Preparing for district play is all the team is focused on, McCaskill said. The Lady Tigers will try to continue to do just that when they visit Bloomfield (6-1) at 7 p.m. Monday.
Kirtland Central 71, Miyamura 52
A team meeting following Tuesday's 20-point loss to West Mesa proved to be beneficial for Kirtland Central.
The Broncos snapped a four-game losing skid on Wednesday by ousting Miyamura 71-52 on the final day of the Stu Clark Invite in Las Vegas, N.M.
With the win over the Patriots (5-6), Kirtland Central (2-8) claimed seventh place in the eight-team tourney.
"The meeting went a long way," KC coach Brian Dowdy said. "They really came together and did pretty much everything they didn't do yesterday."
The Broncos hustled, moved the ball well and focused on defense, especially in the second half. The team was down 34-33 at halftime, then allowed only 18 points over the final two frames.
"We made a good run when we went into our press," Dowdy said. "It kind of took them out of the flow of their offense and created some easy looks for us. It's really when the momentum swung."
Riley Hamblin led the team in scoring with a season-high 19 points. He hit three 3-pointers on the day.
KC visits Laguna Acoma (8-1) on Monday.
Las Cruces 82, Aztec 32
Aztec struggled for the third day in a row on Wednesday in the Rio Rancho Tournament, losing 82-32 to Las Cruces (5-7).
The Tigers showed some signs of life in the first half of Tuesday's loss against Mayfield, but could never get going against the Bulldawgs in the final day of the three-day tourney.
"They transition well, and it caught our guys off guard," Aztec assistant coach Darva Kinlicheenie said.
Down 48-9 at halftime, Aztec (1-9) didn't quit in the second half. The Tigers picked up the intensity on defense and did their best to build toward their next game, which will be a Tuesday home tilt against Grants.
Preston Daugherty scored all but 11 of his team's points by netting 21. He leads the Tigers in scoring this season.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.