Broncos storm past Prep in the third quarter with 24-10 run
FARMINGTON — The Kirtland Central boys basketball team overcame a lethargic second quarter to rout a depleted Navajo Prep team tonight.
Ahead by just 3 points at halftime, KC regained its focus in the third quarter and ran away with the game, winning 75-49 at the Eagles Nest in Farmington.
Due to injury and suspension, only one player who started for the Eagles (10-3) on Dec. 15 started in tonight's loss to Kirtland Central (6-6). Tyler Pete, one of the team's top-three leading scorers this season, did not play and is set to miss a minimum of two weeks after hurting his knee on Saturday against Aztec.
Still, a young and inexperienced Prep lineup showed heart against the Broncos in the second quarter. Prep fell into a 14-point hole coming out of the first but responded by making it a 26-23 score in KC's favor by halftime.
In that second quarter, freshmen Thomas Montanez and Lance Morris, as well as junior Tehrall Martinez, all drained key 3-pointers.
"Did anybody think we were gonna get within 3? I didn't," Navajo Prep coach Rick Hoerner said. "Morris is a freshman, and Trejan Clichee is a sophomore. Those guys played pretty hard tonight, despite whatever happened out here. I still get good performances out of those guys, trying their best. They're out-manned and out-hustled."
The Eagles, who are in the middle of a stretch of six games in seven days, were certainly out-manned after halftime.
KC was relentless with its full-court press and on the glass, and that translated to a 24-10 third-quarter run.
Broncos coach Brian Dowdy said his team bounced back after losing sight just before halftime.
"We weren't intense," Dowdy said. "Defensively we weren't moving our feet, we were standing around and watching. And offensively, we kept trying to go one-on-five."
After that catastrophic second frame, Dowdy said he thought his team really came together. In addition to its hustle, KC received timely buckets from bench players like Kyle Yellowhair, who sank a pair of triples in the quarter.
"We've been challenging our bench to get a little better. They've struggled throughout the year, just not having that varsity experience," Dowdy said. "And tonight we have several guys who had their best game. I think it was (Yellowhair's) best game by far, and he's capable of that. For whatever reason he's just been struggling in the bright lights."
The Broncos played hard until the final buzzer, routinely diving for loose balls and outscoring the hosts in the fourth quarter by a 25-16 margin.
KC's Jariah Setzer kept his foot on the gas with 12 of his game-high 21 points coming in the fourth. Dylan Begay led the Eagles in points with 15.
Amid a hectic week of their own in which they play four times, the Broncos will turn around and host Shiprock (4-8) on Tuesday night.
Prep will be at Capital (12-2) Tuesday before hosting Zuni (3-10) Wednesday. Hoerner said his guys are a little tired right now, but he knows they'll continue to fight as hard as they did tonight.
"It's practice. I mean, we gotta get ready with a new lineup for district play," Hoerner said. "Everything we do gets us better. Getting pressed by Kirtland helps. When we handled it, we were good. When we didn't handle it, they devoured us. I'm not worry about the character of my guys. They're a little gassed, but they're gonna play hard for me."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.