Bloomfield takes down KC on the road 58-42
Elijiah Harry helps Shiprock come back against Wingate
KIRTLAND – The Bloomfield boys basketball team is playing its best ball of the season right now.
The visiting Bobcats picked up their seventh straight win on Thursday and kept their unbeaten district record intact when they downed Kirtland Central 58-42 at Bronco Arena.
The meeting was the first between the District 1-4A rivals since KC knocked Bloomfield out of the state tournament in March, just a few weeks after besting the Bobcats to claim the district crown.
With the two teams once again on a collision course for the district title, Bloomfield's statement win on Thursday shows that the Bobcats (14-6, 5-0 District 1-4A) are determined to reverse the outcome this time around.
"That was probably our best win of the season," Bloomfield coach Devon Manning said. "Overall, we executed our defensive scheme, and that's attributed to our kids paying attention in practice and applying that to the game."
After a neck-and-neck first quarter, Bloomfield thoroughly outplayed Kirtland Central (8-13, 4-1) over the final three frames.
Christian Chavez was aggressive offensively throughout the night and had a game-high 23 points to show for it.
The Bobcats had no problem showing patience in half-court sets in the first half. They ran the offense through Chavez, who was smart with his touches.
KC trailed by only 2 points at the break, but let the game slip away after that. Malachi Pablo scored all 14 of his points after the break.
"All the way through district, we've been focused, but tonight it wasn't there, for whatever reason," KC coach Brian Dowdy said of his team's energy level. "You look at the score and see (Bloomfield) only had 21 at halftime, but I wasn't happy at all with the way we were playing on defense."
While KC's defense was a step slow, its offense was never able to find a rhythm. Bernel Miller and Riley Hamblin gave the Broncos a spark in Saturday's 71-57 win over Shiprock with four 3-pointers in that third quarter, but the duo was only able to muster four total 3-pointers between them on Thursday and just 11 combined points.
Manning said the goal now is to avoid a letdown with just five games left on the regular-season schedule.
"We can't have a letdown — I won't let them have one," he said. "Last time we had a big weekend, we had a letdown to Navajo Prep. And I think we learned from that."
The Bobcats host Wingate (10-10, 2-3) on Saturday, the same day KC finishes a three-game home stretch against Zuni (7-12, 0-4).
Shiprock 66, Wingate 64
The Chieftains closed out a brutal two-month road trip in style on Thursday by stealing a 66-64 victory from Wingate.
Playing from behind, Shiprock (10-10, 3-2) traded buckets with the Bears inside the game's final 90 seconds before guard Elijiah Harry took control. The senior guard converted a 3-point play with less than 15 seconds left to give his team its first lead since the opening minutes of the contest.
Wingate had a mental breakdown on the ensuing possession with a 5-second inbound violation, and then Harry was able to coax the Bears into fouling him with five seconds remaining. Harry made the first free throw, but missed the second on purpose, and Andre Joe tipped the rebound back to him as time ran out.
Chieftains coach Chester Atcitty said the Bears shot lights out on the night, but his team never lost confidence.
"They were just knocking down 3s like crazy," he said. "I gotta give credit to Joe and our younger guys for keeping us in it after halftime."
Joe had a team-high 19 points for Shiprock. Sophomores Kieon Harvey and Arvin Begay played inspired defense and scored timely baskets to cut an 11-point Wingate lead at halftime to a manageable 3 points by the start of the fourth quarter.
On Saturday, Shiprock will play at the Chieftain Pit for the first time since Dec. 5, as Thoreau (5-15, 0-4) pays a visit.
Atcitty said he's hoping the home fans give his guys a lift.
"This is a crucial stretch," he said. "We're hoping our crowd can give us the energy boost we need to get back into the race."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.