FARMINGTON — The experience of the Shiprock girls basketball team proved to be the difference maker in tonight’s contest with Kirtland Central.
The two longtime rivals beat up on each other for three quarters before the Lady Chieftains took over in the fourth quarter to give Shiprock to a 50-38 win over the Lady Broncos at the Chieftain Pit in Shiprock.
“We switched up our press and fell back, and I think (KC) had a hard time adjusting to it,” Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson said. “The girls were patient and waited for some passes, and when we made some good traps, we were able to get some good steals.”
Neither team was able to build a lead of more than a few points through the first three quarters, and heading to the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 28.
But the Lady Chieftains (8-2) went on a 16-0 run over the first several minutes of the quarter, using their half-court trap to make the youthful Lady Broncos (3-5) uncomfortable and at times panic under Shiprock’s defensive pressure and enthusiastic fans.
“At the end, they started to do a lot of trapping in the half court. We knew what they were trying to do, and we handled it pretty well for a while, but in that place, once you start to get a little rattled or panicky, it can snowball in a hurry, and that’s kind of what happened,” KC coach John Zecca said.
KC finally broke its scoreless drought with about two minutes remaining when Tiajhae Nez knocked down a 3. But by then, the deficit was too much for the Lady Broncos to overcome.
Paige Dale led Shiprock with 19 points, and her performance drew high praise from Zecca.
“Paige Dale is a heck of a player. She probably doesn’t get noticed as much as she deserves,” he said. “She does pretty much everything well. She plays great defense, a good shooter, usually makes all her free throws, has a good attitude. I’m really impressed with her.”
Shiprock, riding a five-game win streak, will travel to Tohatchi on Thursday to face the Lady Cougars (8-3).
KC will head to Los Lunas this weekend for games at Los Lunas (2-5) Friday and Valencia (1-4) on Saturday.
Farmington 45, Durango, Colo., 37
The Lady Scorps had their best performance of the season tonight, leading Durango, Colo., by a comfortable margin from start to finish en route to a 45-37 victory tonight in Durango.
“We got the lead early and kept in in the 8- to 12-point range the whole way,” Farmington coach Brady Rivers said. “We executed and played probably our best game all season.”
The Lady Scorps (4-4) switched up their defense regularly to keep Durango (5-3) off balance and Rivers said the team did a good job communicating to keep from any breakdowns.
Tamia Pete led the Lady Scorps with 12 points.
Farmington will host crosstown rival Piedra Vista (5-1) on Friday. The two teams met at the Jerry Richardson Memorial Tournament on Dec. 1 in Shiprock with PV getting a 38-37 victory.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.