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Second-seeded Shiprock starts state vs. Socorro

Eighth-seeded Aztec will host No. 9 Piedra Vista on Friday

Jake Newby
jnewby@pnj.com

FARMINGTON — Now that their first opponent has been revealed, the Lady Chieftains basketball team can officially prepare to try and wrangle its first ever Class 4A state title.

Shiprock's Tanisha Begay drives past Los Alamos' Sophie Royal during a game on Friday, Jan. 7,  at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

The state tournament brackets were released on Sunday, and all seven San Juan County area girls teams made the cut.

No. 2 Shiprock will host No. 15 Socorro on Friday night at the Chieftain Pit. Shiprock's overall record was 26-3 this season, and coach Larenson Henderson's team won the district championship for the second straight year.

The Lady Chieftains have won five Class 3A state titles in their history, but the 4A state crown still eludes them. They lost in the state final in 2010, 2011 and 2014.

In Class 5A, Aztec drew the No. 8 seed and will run into a familiar foe on Friday night at Lillywhite Gym in ninth-seeded Piedra Vista. The Lady Tigers defeated PV 58-50 on Jan 21., but the Lady Panthers returned the favor in a major way by routing Aztec 60-37 on Feb. 6.

Aztec coach Robert McCaskill said he thought the state didn't respect District 1-5A as much as it should have.

"I was very shocked that PV didn't receive a home game. They're a great team with a great strength of schedule," McCaskill said. "Same with us, I think, and the same with Farmington."

McCaskill said that Aztec, which started 14-2 before dropping six of its last 11 games, has to get back to playing with the kind of defensive intensity that triggered the fantastic 14-2 start.

Aztec's Elana Kresl takes a shot during a game on Saturday, Feb. 6, against Piedra Vista at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

PV coach Joe Reed said he was also surprised at the way 1-5A was handled on Sunday.

"With our MaxPreps ranking being up at (number) six (in 5A), I thought we would get a home game. And I had Aztec up around the sixth seed," Reed said. "Moriarty being a district champ pushed them up to No. 6, I imagine."

Farmington is hot right now, having defeated PV twice and Aztec once in the past nine days. The Lady Scorps drew the 11th seed in 5A and will visit Moriarty on Friday.

Kirtland Central (20-8) was great in coach John Zecca's first season, and will play Friday at Bronco Arena from the No. 4 seed in Class 4A against No. 13 Pojoaque Valley.

Bloomfield will be the eighth seed and will host ninth-seeded Robertson on Friday night. Lady Bobcats coach Tom Adair said he was hoping for a sixth or seventh seed, but is excited to be in the state tournament nonetheless, and is looking forward to the Robertson game.

"They play in a good district against West Las Vegas and Taos, and they beat Taos, which is something we didn't do it," Adair said of Robertson. "They're a well-coached team and we just have to work on getting better this week in practice. We're glad to have a home game, that's for sure."

Navajo Prep's girls got the 11th seed in Class 3A, so they will travel Friday to take on sixth-seeded Cuba.

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