Kirtland Central slips past Bloomfield 41-37

Karl Schneider

KIRTLAND – One quarter proved to be the difference between the Kirtland Central and Bloomfield girls basketball teams Wednesday night.

After the two sides were tied at 18 at halftime, the Lady Broncos dominated the third quarter, outscoring their counterparts 15-2 to help push KC past the Lady Bobcats 41-37 in a semifinal game of the District 1-4A Tournament at the Bronco Arena.

KC head coach John Zecca said the message to his team heading into the third period was simply to pick up the intensity on defense.

“We knew that if we were moving with the ball on defense, getting our hands up and getting in the passing lanes a little bit better, we would be able to get them to turn the ball over, and they did a good job of that,” Zecca said.

Bloomfield head coach Tom Adair agreed that the third quarter was the difference in the game.

Kirtland Central's Tiajhae Nez drives to the basket during a game against Bloomfield on Wednesday at the Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

“Really, what lost us the game was the third quarter,” he said. “We had some turnovers that killed us, and they probably outworked us, to a certain degree.”

With a 33-20 lead entering the fourth quarter, the Lady Broncos (20-7) lost the intensity that guided them in the third. And Bloomfield (18-10) took advantage.

During the first five minutes of the quarter, the Lady Bobcats outscored KC 15-6 to cut their deficit to 39-35.

KC maintained the small cushion, and Bloomfield was forced to start fouling to gain extra possessions with 1:07 remaining and KC leading 41-37.

The Lady Broncos failed to convert on the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, keeping Bloomfield in the game. But the Lady Bobcats missed a few layups in the final minute that allowed KC to hang on for the win.

“We had chances, but we’ve got to make our layups,” Adair said. “But what I’m proud of is the way we battled back.”

Destiny Walther led Bloomfield with 11 points.

Bloomfield's Destiny Walther pulls down a rebound during a game against Kirtland Central on Wednesday at the Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

Haile Gleason led KC with 13 points, while senior Megan Silversmith provided the Lady Broncos with a needed presence on the boards against a bigger and more physical Bloomfield team.

“She’s never been a high-scoring player, but if she plays that role of rebounding and playing good defense, she’s going to mean a lot to us, and she has,” Zecca said of Silversmith. “Especially in a game like this against a physical team that crashes the boards hard. We really relied on her. It takes some unselfishness for players to do that, and I respect her a lot for that.”

KC advanced to the tournament final and will travel to Shiprock to face the Lady Chieftains (25-3) on Friday. It will be the fourth meeting between the two rivals, with Shiprock winning the last two.

Zecca said there isn’t much he needs to tell his team going into Friday night.

“It’s kind of the same (message) as it was tonight. This was the fourth time we’d seen Bloomfield, and I didn’t have to put a whole lot on the board before the game,” he said. “We know what they (Shiprock) do. We know their players, and they know us. We just have to come out and play hard.”

Shiprock 73, Wingate 43

Shiprock (25-3) picked up another one-sided victory over a district opponent, thrashing Wingate (12-15) 73-43 in a District 1-4A Tournament semifinal game Wednesday night at the Chieftian Pit in Shiprock.

“A win is a win, but we played kind of sloppy,” Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson said. “We did well with our pressure and got a lot of steals, but missed a lot of layups, as well.”

Tia Woods led Shiprock with 16 points. Shontai Grey finished with 14 and Tanisha Begay added 12.

Shiprock will host Kirtland Central (20-7) in the tournament final on Friday. Henderson said the team’s main focus for Friday’s game will be on the defensive side of the ball.

“If we’re going to miss easy shots and let teams hang around, we need to shut them down on defense,” Henderson said.

Boys basketball

Gallup 61, Piedra Vista 49

Once again, Piedra Vista was in position to get a win over Gallup, but again the Bengals closed the game on a high note to top the Panthers 61-49 in the District 1-5A Tournament semifinal Wednesday night in Gallup.

It was the fourth meeting this season between PV (14-13) and Gallup (21-6), and in each game, the Panthers either led or trailed by single digits in the fourth quarter before losing.

Wednesday night, the Panthers led 41-36 entering the fourth quarter, but PV head coach Adam Huff said his team lost its mental edge in the final quarter.

“We thought we had taken their best shot and withstood the push, and I think we got rattled to the point that we stopped doing what worked in the first half, which was running our offense,” Huff said of the fourth quarter. “If you don’t run your offense against a good team like Gallup, they’re going to get out in transition, and that’s what killed us.”

Six players scored 6 points or more for the Panthers, with Jarrett Graham leading PV with 10 points.

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.