Harry's 30 points help Shiprock upset KC in OT
Stunning upsets lead to Shiprock vs. Wingate district final
KIRTLAND – After a wild Thursday night of boys basketball, Shiprock is set to host Wingate in the unlikeliest of District 1-4A championship games on Saturday.
Elijiah Harry stepped up for the Chieftains in the wake of Andre Joe's lingering shoulder injury, exploding for 30 points — all of which came after the first quarter — to guide Shiprock to a 70-66 upset victory over Kirtland Central in overtime at Bronco Arena.
The win was Shiprock's first over KC in three attempts this season. Top-seeded Bloomfield was also upset on the road, by Wingate, so the third-seeded Chieftains (17-12) will host Saturday's district title game.
"There were a lot of little errors down at the end to make it exciting, but we executed tonight," Chieftains coach Chester Atcitty said. "It was a battle. That's what this time of year is all about."
KC (12-15) had an 11-4 lead after one quarter of play, but Harry singlehandedly turned the game around by scoring 12 points in the second.
Harry, a senior, said he knew he had to shift to a score-first mentality once Joe aggravated his left shoulder injury early in the game to prematurely end his night.
"To see one of our leaders go down is kind of hard, but that's when you gotta take that leadership role," Harry said. "That's what clicked in my head."
The Broncos went into halftime and the fourth quarter with a 2-point lead.
Sloppy play from both teams marred most of the fourth, especially for KC. After creating a little bit of separation with a 52-46 lead, the Broncos turned the ball over under their own net on three straight possessions.
"That's just a lack of execution. Our guys haven't gone on a streak like that all year for us," KC coach Brian Dowdy said of the sloppy sequence. "We had the right guys in there, the guys who got us there, but just had some inexplicable brain freezes in crunch time."
While KC sputtered, Harry starred. Shiprock regained a 53-52 lead on a beautiful reverse layup from Harry in traffic. Just a minute later with his team back behind by 3, Harry pulled up and nailed an off-balance 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left to tie the game at 57. It would be the last bucket of regulation.
Harry was on fire down the stretch, so much so that missing shots didn't even seem feasible to him.
"I knew there was no one on that court that could stop me," Harry said. "I had that mentality and that confidence in my head. I felt like every shot was going in."
Shiprock overcame a couple of untimely turnovers in OT to hold Kirtland off, thanks in large part to a 3-point play from backup point guard Steven Reed.
Harry — who scored 13 combined points in the fourth period and overtime — hit one of two free throws with 9.7 seconds left to give Shiprock a crucial 4-point lead, one that it wouldn't cough up.
Noah Lee scored 9 of his team-high 13 points in the third quarter for the Broncos.
Shiprock and Wingate will rekindle an old rivalry when the Bears enter the Chieftain Pit for Saturday's 6 p.m. contest. Atcitty said he never doubted this unlikely matchup could take place.
"We knew this was a possibility," he said. "Go back two years ago, and we were in this same situation. (Wingate coach) Al Martinez mentioned we could get this rivalry going again. We just had to do our part and take care of business, and lo and behold."
In 2014, Shiprock crushed Wingate 85-58 to claim the district crown.
Wingate 39, Bloomfield 37
Bloomfield's 12-game win streak came to a shocking end on Thursday when the hosts fell 39-37 to fourth-seeded Wingate at Bobcat Gym.
The Bobcats (19-7) went into halftime ahead by only 2 points, but looked like they had righted the ship after the break.
Nine of Brendon Charley's team-high 16 points came in the third quarter. His run helped Bloomfield take a 12-point lead into the fourth, but the wheels came off after that.
Wingate (14-13) rallied all the way back and effectively won the game on a Brandon Belone 3-pointer with nine seconds left. Wingate finished the fourth quarter on an improbable 12-0 run.
"Our turnovers fueled their engine," Bloomfield coach Devon Manning said. "They had 9 points off turnovers in the fourth quarter. I made a lot of bad coaching decisions tonight, so a good chunk of this is on me."
Now in a one-and-done situation when Bloomfield resumes play on Saturday, March 5 in the state tournament, Manning said he hopes his team got the bad loss out of its system.
"We were due a loss. We may as well have gotten it out of the way tonight or Saturday," he said. "Now, there's no more excuses. Our seniors our guaranteed one more game — that's it."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.