Lady Tigers survive late-game Bloomfield surge
Kirtland Central boys snap Laguna Acoma's 60-game home winning streak
BLOOMFIELD — Grace Olsen's late free throws and some tough-luck Bloomfield misses helped the sizzling hot Aztec girls basketball team secure its ninth straight win on Monday.
The visiting Lady Tigers led from start to finish but had to stave off a more focused second-half effort from Bloomfield. Down by only two, the Lady Bobcats missed four shot attempts on their last two possessions and lost 44-39 at Bobcat Gym.
Aztec coach Robert McCaskill said he thought Aztec let Bloomfield back into the game by making too many fourth-quarter mistakes.
"We didn't play very well. We had that deer in the headlights look," McCaskill said. "Just too many mistakes with the game on the line. We got the win, but we've played way better."
Aztec (12-2) hasn't practiced since returning from California, where the Lady Tigers won the silver division championship of the Garden Grove Tournament on Wednesday.
As has usually been the case for Aztec, the defense bailed out the offense for much of the night. The Lady Tigers held Bloomfield (6-2) to just five points in the first quarter and 11 by halftime.
But Bloomfield woke up after the break, tying Aztec 11-11 in the third and outscoring the visitors 18-11 in the tight fourth quarter.
"We came out too tentative," Bloomfield coach Tom Adair said. "Part of that might have been trying to figure out what they were doing on defense, but we gotta be more aggressive and attack all game."
Destiny Walther went into the second half with only 2 points before breaking loose for 13 in the third and fourth quarters. She led her team in scoring.
Bloomfield made it a 41-39 game, but couldn't make it any closer than that. Bloomfield's Brandi Alcantar missed two shots and turned the ball over on one sequence, then Kara Watchman — who knocked down two 3-pointers in the fourth — missed a wide open shot from beyond the arch.
"They were all good looks," Adair said. "Kara's hit shots like that all year, she does it every day in practice. Sometimes, they just don't go down."
Aztec was able to collect the rebound off Watchman's miss. The Lady Bobcats then fouled Olsen, who calmly sank two free throws to make it an out-of-reach four-point game.
Myra McCaskill was great for Aztec with 15 points and four 3-pointers. She went on an 8-0 run by herself in the second half when Bloomfield began its surge.
Both teams will turn their attention to their respective tournaments later in the week. The Lady Tigers will take on Shiprock Northwest on Thursday at the Lady Tigers Rumble in Aztec, while Bloomfield will battle Farmington the same day as part of the Lady Bronco Tournament in Kirtland.
Kirtland Central 69, Laguna Acoma 56
Kirtland Central may finally be starting to turn things around.
The Broncos made a statement Monday night on the road by snapping the incredible 60-game home winning streak of Laguna Acoma (9-2) with a 69-56 victory.
"We just did a great job, I tip to my hat to every boy on the team," KC coach Brian Dowdy said. "We just wanted it more tonight."
KC (3-8) led from wire to wire. A lack of offensive productivity has been KC's biggest problem this season, but not on Monday. Three Broncos scored in double figures as crisp ball movement led to open shots that Kirtland hit with consistency.
Ahead only 34-31 at the half, KC turned it up a notch and ran away with the game for its second straight win.
Ty Yellowman scored 19 points, Riley Hamblin had 15 and Bryson Dowdy added 10 for KC, which will play Sandia Prep on Thursday to kick off the Gallup Invitational.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and email@example.com.