Grey paces the Lady Chieftains with 24 points
SHIPROCK – The Bloomfield girls basketball team hung with Shiprock in the first half of Friday night's game, but like many of the Lady Chieftains' opponents so far this season, the Lady Bobcats couldn't do it for a full 32 minutes.
Shiprock is proving it's still the cream of the crop in District 1-4A, even after falling short against Hope Christian last weekend. On Friday, the Lady Chieftains (15-2, 2-0 District 1-4A) used an 18-10 third quarter to pull away from Bloomfield and win 72-40 at the Chieftain Pit.
Both Bloomfield coach Tom Adair and Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson were in agreement that the Lady Bobcats (11-6,1-1) wore themselves down and didn't have their best night.
"We didn't play the way we're capable of playing," Adair said. "I believe we're in better shape than that, but when things go bad, fatigue sets in. Give credit to (Shiprock), they outhustled and outworked us tonight."
The Lady Bobcats committed five turnovers on their first five possessions, so they were fortunate to only be down 6 points by the beginning of the second quarter.
Shontai Grey was the only one hitting her jumpers in the first quarter for Shiprock, which shot less than 30 percent from the field in the opening frame. Henderson said Grey stepped up when everyone else came out cold.
"That's one thing we need, is a player to step up, especially against a zone," Henderson said. "I have several players that can shoot the 3-ball, and it was her night tonight. I'm glad we could find her."
There was no quit in the Lady Bobcats in the second quarter, as they clawed their way to an advantage on the boards and went a solid four of six from the free-throw line.
But Lady Chieftain Tanisha Begay took the baton from Grey and almost singlehandedly staved off the Lady Bobcats by scoring 12 of her 18 points in the second quarter.
The 9-point lead Shiprock took into halftime only expanded after the break. Lady Bobcats coach Tom Adair said he thought his team wasn't mentally strong enough to keep the game within reach down the stretch.
"A lot of that tonight was attitude," he said. "We're trying to earn respect because in the past our program wasn't good, but we've been good the past few years. Shiprock was ready to play us. We're still a good team — there's no way they're that much better than us."
In the third quarter, Shiprock did a much better job of executing plays that led to easy field goals in the paint, something it failed to do in the opening quarters.
Grey was as hot in the third quarter as she was in the first, netting 10 of her game-high 24 points that period. She knocked down four 3-pointers in the game.
Henderson said that better passing and swift substitutions paid dividends after halftime.
"We started taking a breath on every pass, and that helped us out a lot because then we were able to see each other," he said. "Granted, Bloomfield kind of wore themselves down. And I think we made some good substitutions so that we could avoid wearing down ourselves."
Destiny Walther scored 13 points to lead the Lady Bobcats. Nine of those points came in the second quarter, which was Bloomfield's best.
The Lady Bobcats will look to bounce back against Thoreau (4-11, 0-2) on Tuesday, while Shiprock will try to keep rolling against Zuni (3-12, 0-1) on the same night.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.