Broncos rally past Wingate for 78-75 OT win

Bloomfield and Shiprock coast by district opponents, Farmington falls to Sandia

Jake Newby

KIRTLAND – The Kirtland Central boys basketball team thrilled the Bronco Arena fans in its home finale on Saturday by beating Wingate in overtime for the second time this season.

Late in the contest, the Broncos got back to what brought them success in the first half — scoring in the post. That helped them erase a 12-point deficit with less than three minutes to go and win 78-75 in OT.

The victory was vital for Kirtland Central (11-13, 7-1 in District 1-4A), which would have fallen two games behind district-leading Bloomfield in the standings with a loss. KC has already lost to the Bobcats once this season and has to battle them on the road in Saturday's regular-season finale.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Noah Lee was the biggest player on the court for much of the game, and KC coach Brian Dowdy fed his senior center early and often. Lee came through with 10 first-half points, spearheading a late-second quarter 30-18 KC advantage.

But the Broncos got away from that savvy strategy after halftime, and in the third quarter, Bears point guard Kyle Begay dropped 13 of his game-high 28 points as part of a Wingate surge.

The Bears (12-12, 3-5) took a 9-point lead into the fourth quarter, and it got even worse for KC after that.

"I said between the halves, and in several timeouts, 'Get it down to Noah, Kris (Harris-Smith), Bryson (Dowdy) or whoever's on the block,'" Dowdy said. "For whatever reason, we went away from it and just kept shooting jumpers."

Wingate's Manuelito Chee went on a 6-0 run by himself late in the fourth, which lifted the visitors to a seemingly untouchable 12-point lead at the 2:58 mark. But KC didn't stop fighting, and Wingate didn't do itself any favors.

The Bears helped the hosts out with silly turnovers and violations, including sending six men on to the court after a timeout, which resulted in the Broncos shooting technical foul free throws.

"I looked out and saw someone uncovered, so I thought we were blowing an assignment," Dowdy said of the bizarre sequence. "Then (assistant) coach (Greg) Jenks started screaming to the refs that they had six kids out there."

Bryson Dowdy capped a 17-point second half by going coast to coast off a missed free throw to score the game-tying layup with less than three seconds to go. That basket knotted the game at 73 and sent it to overtime.

Much like when KC beat Wingate in OT on Jan. 28, coach Dowdy said he felt like the momentum was overwhelmingly in his team's favor by the time the extra period tipped off.

"It was just like last time, we went on such a big run to close out regulation that they just looked deflated," he said.

KC outscored Wingate 5-2 in OT to complete the comeback.

Dowdy scored 25 points, and Ty Yellowman added 22 for the Broncos, who will hit the road to play Shiprock (13-11, 5-3) Thursday night.

Bloomfield 67, Thoreau 22

Junior point guard Damion Sanchez stepped up for Bloomfield (18-6, 9-0) on Saturday, a day in which season-leading scorer Malachi Pablo only registered 2 points.

Sanchez dropped 19 on Thoreau (5-19, 0-8), and the Bobcat defense played its heart out in a 67-22 win at Bobcat Gym.

"We tried to just play defense with our feet instead of our hands, and that made (Thoreau) force up some pretty tough shots," Bloomfield coach Devon Manning said.

The Hawks went with a box-and-one defense on Pablo, which backfired, as Sanchez, Christian Chavez (15 points) and others continually hit shots.

The Bobcats will try to make it 10-0 in the district when they visit Zuni (8-15, 1-7) on Thursday.

Shiprock 81, Zuni 60 

Like they usually do, the Chieftains went deep into their bench on Saturday, and the constant supply of fresh legs guided them to an 81-60 win over Zuni at the Chieftain Pit.

An all-senior starting five got off to a slow start in the early first quarter on Saturday, but Shiprock coach Chester Atcitty's willingness to go deep into his bench paid dividends against the Thunderbirds.

The Chieftains wound up notching 23 points in the first period, and they went into halftime ahead by 15.

Thunderbird sharpshooter Matthew Tsabetsaye was a thorn in Shiprock's side with 30 points, but the hosts still kept Zuni in the rear-view mirror after the break.

Andre Joe paced Shiprock with 19 points.

Atcitty said Shiprock's next test in KC will come down to how much mental strength his squad exhibits.

"I think we'll be there physically, but it'll mostly be about how mentally prepared we are," he said. "Being at home is a big help."

Sandia 61, Farmington 54

Farmington suffered a rare loss this season, falling to Sandia 61-54 in a nondistrict game Saturday afternoon in Albuquerque.

“We played really sloppy in the first half. We weren’t as efficient as we have been, but we battled back,” Farmington head coach Paul Corley said.

The Scorps (20-4) fell behind 19-9 after the first quarter and saw their deficit grow to 33-17 at halftime. But Farmington chipped away at Sandia’s lead in the third and fourth quarters.

“That’s one thing I love about these kids, especially the seniors — they never quit,” Corley said. “I think we needed a game like this, especially leading up to Gallup and Piedra Vista next week.”

Diego Corley led Farmington with 14 points, followed by Berrett Bentley and Tyren King scoring 9 points each.

The Scorps will host Gallup (19-5, 5-1 District 1-5A) on Tuesday. A win over the Bengals would secure the District 1-5A title for the Scorps (6-0 District 1-5A).

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