Navajo Prep, Bloomfield and Shiprock all pick up decisive wins
FARMINGTON – The Kirtland Central boys basketball team survived quite a scare from Wingate on Thursday.
The Broncos' (7-12, 3-0 District 1-4A) unblemished district record looked to be in danger late in the night after they let a 20-point first-half lead disappear. But KC stayed cool down the stretch and executed in overtime to earn a 67-60 win on the road.
Wingate (9-9, 1-2) looked lifeless for the first 12 to 15 minutes of the contest until going on a 6-0 run at the end of the second quarter.
But the Bears were only getting started. Up by only 8 points at the break, KC coach Brian Dowdy said he warned his team that the hosts may go on an even bigger run to start the third, and that's exactly what happened.
And while Wingate did what it wanted offensively, the Broncos had a hard time finding any rhythm.
"Our offense wasn't fluid there for a while, for whatever reason, and their crowd was amazing, like it always is." Dowdy said. "They got into it."
One thing the Bears didn't do well late in the game was hit free throws. That allowed KC to battle back from a narrow deficit to send the game into overtime, which the visitors then dominated.
"I felt really good about overtime," Dowdy said. "I knew right when the buzzer rang at the end of the fourth that we were going to get the win at that point, just by looking at the boys' body language coming off the floor."
Bernel Miller hit four 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 16 points for KC. The Broncos host Shiprock (9-9, 2-1) on Saturday night, in what is always a spirited rivalry game.
Shiprock 75, Zuni 55
The Chieftains enjoyed their highest scoring output of the season on Thursday when they bested Zuni 75-55 on the road.
Coming off a 28-point loss to Farmington on Tuesday, Shiprock coach Chester Atcitty said his goal was for his players to stay committed to the game plan against Zuni (7-11, 0-3).
"It was more or less about playing hard defense tonight and knowing that the offense will take care of itself," he said. "As always, we preached not settling for the outside shot. That was the No. 1 thing we told them."
All 13 Chieftains made it into the scoring column, led by Andre Joe and Landon Henderson, who scored 12 points apiece.
Shiprock cleaned up in transition, scoring consistently off of Thunderbird turnovers. Atcitty said his team also fared well on the glass.
"We only allowed one shot on most possessions," he said. "We had roughly 10 more rebounds than them. We dominated the boards."
Bloomfield 60, Thoreau 34
One lazy quarter of basketball was all it took to taint a lopsided district victory for Bloomfield coach Devon Manning.
The Bobcats (12-6, 3-0) remained unbeaten early on in their district schedule by blasting Thoreau 60-34 on Thursday, but Manning said he was furious at his team's fourth-quarter effort.
Bloomfield rolled to a 59-24 advantage after the third by demonstrating good ball movement and limiting turnovers.
But the Bobcats packed it in after that, according to Manning.
"I sure as hell let them know that's not how we play," he said. "I called a timeout and let them have it. I don't care what the score is or how much time's left, you play your butt off. So they got an earful, even when the game was out of hand."
Manning went with a mix of reserves and starters in the fourth against the Hawks (4-14, 0-3), but he said everyone made their share of mistakes.
Still, Bloomfield is playing well right now, having won five games in a row. The Bobcats will return home on Saturday to play Zuni.
Navajo Prep 56, Crownpoint 39
The Eagles soared to their fourth straight victory on Thursday by going on the road and beating Crownpoint 56-39.
Navajo Prep (15-5, 2-0 District 1-3A) counter-adjusted well to Crownpoint's adjustments throughout the night. After cracking the code that was the zone defense of the Eagles (2-13, 1-1) in the first half, Prep's Nachae Nez made the hosts pay for switching to man to man.
The junior guard picked up 16 points in the game to lead the Eagles to the easy win.
Prep coach Rick Hoerner said the solid play of his front court opened up the game for Nez after halftime.
"Our three bigs — Tyler Pete, Anthony Pioche-Lee and Dylan Begay — all had 8 points, so I've got to give those guys credit," he said. "We may be kind of small, but in our district, we actually have pretty good size. That showed tonight."
The Eagles take on Newcomb (8-11, 1-1) tonight in a game scheduled to be played at Kirtland Central. A bomb threat at Newcomb High School last week led to the cancellation or relocation of all of the school's athletic events this week.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.