Hot third quarter pushes KC past Shiprock 71-57

Bloomfield wins sixth straight game behind Chavez's 24 points

Jake Newby

KIRTLAND – The third quarter was nearly the downfall for the Kirtland Central boys basketball team on Thursday when it narrowly defeated Wingate. But on Saturday, the third quarter served as the downfall for KC’s opponent.

The Broncos shook off a 3-point halftime deficit by going on an offensive rampage in the third. They hit five 3-pointers, scored 25 points and cruised from there to a 71-57 win over Shiprock at Bronco Arena.

Bernel Miller and Riley Hamblin combined for four of those five KC triples. The defense then fed off the offense's success to make for a lopsided 25-7 third quarter.

Kirtland Central's Riley Hamblim attempts a 3-pointer against Shiprock on Saturday at Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

"(The game) was stagnant, back and forth and kind of physical, but then we just played our game in the third," Broncos coach Brian Dowdy said. "It was nice to see our defense feed off our offense for once."

The Broncos (8-12, 4-0 District 1-4A) got off to a decent start, winning the first quarter by a score of 13-7. But Shiprock (9-10, 2-2) owned the second quarter.

Bryson Dowdy was KC's only bright spot on either end of the floor in the second, scoring 9 points. Meanwhile, the Chieftains were picking up steals and scoring in transition.

Half of Shiprock's 20 second-quarter points came from the bench, while the other 10 were scored by Landon Henderson.

Chieftains coach Chester Atcitty said his team bounced back well from a rough opening frame.

"We weathered the storm, because we knew they were gonna be fired up in the that first quarter playing at home," Atcitty said.

But Shiprock's first quarter looked great compared to its third. The visitors couldn't get anything to fall offensively and were slow to rotate on defense, leading to KC's breakout from behind the 3-point line.

Shiprock's Kevin Begay's shot is defended by Kirtland Central's Jimmy Nez on Saturday at Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

"Defensively, we just didn't have that energy in the second half," Atcitty said. "We looked kind of sluggish, and they made us pay for it."

KC took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter and stretched it to 21 at one point before the Chieftain bench chopped the deficit down to 14 by game's end.

Elijah Harry was solid for Shiprock with a game-high 17 points. Dowdy's 13 were a team high for the Broncos.

The Chieftains will finally get a little rest after a four-game week. They play Wingate on the road on Thursday.

The win for KC sets up a Thursday showdown between the lone 1-4A teams with undefeated district records when the Broncos battle Bloomfield (13-6, 4-0) at home.

Bloomfield 68, Zuni 49

The Bobcats continued to roll over their district competition on Saturday, drubbing Zuni 68-49 at Bobcat Gym.

Bloomfield has won by at least 19 points in each of its last three games. On Saturday, the Bobcats used a hot middle two quarters to put the Thunderbirds (7-12, 0-4) away.

"We scored 50 points total in the second and third quarter," Bobcats coach Devon Manning said. "We passed the ball well, and we were making shots. We missed a lot of bunnies in the first quarter, and we started making those in the second quarter."

Christian Chavez was a load for Zuni to guard in the paint, scoring a game-high 24 points. Brendon Charley also had a nice game with 18.

After coaching his way to Bloomfield's fifth straight win, Manning said he realized he's been too hard on his players of late. He said he'll try to work on that going forward.

"I think I'm part of the problem right now as the coach," he said. "I'm not afraid to admit that. It seems like I'm not being satisfied with what we're doing."

Like Kirtland Central, Bloomfield is off until Thursday, when the top two teams in 1-4A face off in Kirtland. Manning said he knows how good KC is and is expecting to face a huge test on the road.

"Kirtland is a tough team. Their record doesn't show how good they are," he said. "They've got solid players everywhere. The key for us is just playing our game and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. These are the games you want to play in, so we've got to have three days of good, hard practice, and be ready to go against a really good team."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.