Kirtland Central, Shiprock also move on to second round
BLOOMFIELD – The eighth-seeded Bloomfield girls basketball team ran No. 9 Robertson out of the gym on Friday to earn a trip to Albuquerque for the second round of the 4A state playoffs.
Bloomfield's full-court press wreaked havoc on Robertson (14-15) and guided the Lady Bobcats to a 76-53 playoff victory at Bobcat Gym.
"Our press was huge, and then we did a real good job rebounding and blocking out on their bigs," Lady Bobcats coach Tom Adair said.
Robertson didn't know how to handle Bloomfield's press in the first half and wound up turning the ball over 17 times before the break. Bloomfield defensive stalwarts Sierra Ortiz and Brandi Alcantar forced many of those turnovers and turned them into a combined 12 first-quarter points.
Late in the second quarter, the Lady Bobcats (19-10) received a bit of a scare when leading scorer Destiny Walther had to be helped to the bench with an ankle injury. But the junior forward put some ice on it, got it taped up and roared out of the locker room with 9 third-quarter points.
"My adrenaline just kicked in," Walther said. "I wanted to show (Robertson) what I was capable of doing."
"Maybe we need to have her turn that ankle more often," Adair joked. "She really responded in a good way."
Bloomfield coasted behind Walther's inspired second half and a press that never let up. The Lady Cardinals got the deficit down to 12 points a couple of times, but Bloomfield stepped on the gas on both occasions.
After falling to Santa Fe Indian School in the opening round last year, Adair said he's excited to advance at state, where a tall task awaits his team in the form of No. 1 Portales.
"They're very good. They have a great post player that can also step out and hit 3s," Adair said of the Lady Rams' Kambrey Blakey. "She may be the best player in the state — we're going to have to play great defense on her."
The Lady Bobcats tangle with Portales at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at The Pit in Albuquerque.
Shiprock 70, Socorro 34
A surprisingly competitive opening quarter was nothing the second-seeded Lady Chieftains couldn't overcome on Friday night at the Chieftain Pit.
Socorro guard Aracely Aldarete was hot from behind the 3-point arc, helping the visitors tie Shiprock (28-3) through one quarter of play. But the the Lady Chieftains quickly got back on track and won 70-34 in the opening round of the state tournament.
"Man, they gave us a battle in the first quarter; I think they were even up by a couple," Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson said. "But other than that, we just kind of kept our pace."
Tanisha Begay got into foul trouble early on and missed most of the first half as a result. But much like she did in last week's district title-clinching game against Kirtland Central, Begay dominated the third quarter. She torched No. 15 Socorro (13-18) with 10 points in the frame.
Begay had a team-high 19 points, and Shontai Gray chipped in with 16 for the Lady Chieftains, who stuck to the game plan after a shaky first quarter.
"I'm really proud of the girls for keeping their composure," Henderson said. "They were executing plays, moving the ball around and finding each other. They're playing the way we want them to play offensively and defensively."
Shiprock will play No. 7 Taos at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at The Pit.
Kirtland Central 60, Pojoaque Valley 34
Fourth-seeded Kirtland Central (21-8) also dominated its opening-round 4A state playoff game on Friday night, trouncing No. 13 Pojoaque Valley 60-34 on Friday.
Haile Gleason scored 20 points for KC, which locked the Elkettes (12-16) down from start to finish.
"We really came into this game preaching defense," Lady Broncos coach John Zecca said. "We pressed them quite a bit, which we don't normally do. We kind of like to do that when a team has to travel that far."
KC's relentless press created easy buckets for its offense. The Lady Broncos didn't show any mercy, turning a 20-point lead after three quarters into 30 by the midway point of the fourth.
Up next for KC will be an 8 a.m. game against No. 5 Hope Christian on Tuesday at the Pit. Zecca said he's not happy about the time, but he thinks his team will be fired up regardless.
"No one wants to play that early, but I understand someone's got to," he said. "Hope lives closer, so they might have an advantage there. But either way, the girls know that state is a really good driving force and a really good motivator."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.