Shiprock gets revenge on KC with 47-45 road win

Bloomfield wallops Zuni, Navajo Prep cruises by Crownpoint

Jake Newby
jnewby@pnj.com

KIRTLAND – The Shiprock girls basketball team won a game it had to have on Tuesday night to keep its hopes of a No. 1 seed in next week's District 1-4A tournament alive.

Both teams were ice cold offensively in the first half, but the visiting Lady Chieftains did enough after the break to hold off Kirtland Central and win 47-45 at Bronco Arena.

Shiprock (22-3, 8-1 in District 1-4A) avenged a Jan. 29 home loss to KC (18-6, 8-1) by returning the favor on Tuesday. Should both teams win their respective final games of the regular season on Friday, they will face off for a third time early next week in a district tiebreaker to determine the No. 1 seed.

Lady Chieftains coach Larenson Henderson said he thought his team's willingness to play inside was the difference down the stretch.

"We got them to switch a couple of times, and we were ready to capitalize on mismatches in the post," he said. "I'm proud of the girls for that. We could have jacked it up and gotten careless, but we worked it around and got the inside shots."

Shiprock's Tanisha Begay shoots over a pair of Kirtland Central defenders on Feb. 15 at Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

Nerves and cold shooting on both sides led to a 3-3 game through one quarter of play.

Things didn't heat up until the final three minutes of the second, when Haile Gleason led an 8-3 KC charge to close the first half and retie the game at 16.

Kirtland Central lived and died by the 3-pointer in the contest. The Lady Broncos made four treys in the first half, but missed a lot more. After halftime, they sank seven and were much more efficient with their shot selection.

"It's a mental thing. Shooters go through slumps, but I've never really seen this many shooters go through them at the same time like this," Lady Broncos coach John Zecca said. "We did hit some big shots in the second half that kept us in the game."

Seniors Shamika Benally and Krystal Sheka stepped up in their final regular-season home game by nailing a combined five triples in the second half.

KC needed every bit of production from those two, as Paige Dale was busy going off on the other end for Shiprock, scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half.

With exactly a minute left, Benally hit her third 3-pointer of the half to make it a 2-point game, but that's as close as the hosts would get.

Kirtland Central's Deiondra Smith looks to shoot against Shiprock's Cassandra Peters on Tuesday at Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

Dale was intentionally fouled with 15.2 seconds to go, and she knocked down both shots to make it a two-possession game at 47-43.

KC then blew its already slim shot at a last-minute rally when Benally overthrew Gleason on an inbound attempt and turned the ball over.

Dale and Gray scored 16 points apiece to lead Shiprock. Gleason paced KC with 15 points, but she had to earn them, picking up 7 from the free-throw line.

Shiprock visits Wingate (11-13, 3-6) on Friday, the same night KC will have its hands full with Bloomfield (17-8, 6-3) on the road.

Bloomfield 71, Zuni 11

Bloomfield coach Tom Adair said he's feeling good about where his team is at as the Lady Bobcats prepare to play the spoiler role against Kirtland Central on Friday night.

The Lady Bobcats crushed Zuni 71-11 at Bobcat Gym on Tuesday. The hosts built a 47-2 halftime advantage and never looked back.

"We're playing our kind of basketball right now — it doesn't matter who our opponent is," Adair said. "I told the girls, this is that time of year, this is where it's most fun. And it looks like we're peaking at the right time."

The starters didn't play a lot of minutes, but they were effective while on the floor. Kara Watchman scored 13 points, and Kimmy Morgan followed her with 12.

Navajo Prep 63, Crownpoint 37

The Lady Eagles beat Crownpoint (8-10, 2-5) by a final score of 63-37 on the road on Tuesday to win back-to-back games for just the third time this season.

"We had a great defensive game and scored off turnovers," Navajo Prep coach Rainy Crisp said. "Our post players ran the floor very well tonight."

Harlei Haceesa had a huge game with 24 points for Navajo Prep (10-14, 5-2 in District 1-3A), which is trying to build momentum going into the district tournament.

On Friday, the Lady Eagles go on the road to close out the regular season against Rehoboth Christian, which they beat 40-37 on Feb. 5.

"We know that all the teams in the district have gotten better since the first time around," Crisp said. "So it's important to come out and play solid defense from the very beginning on Friday."

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