KIRTLAND — The Kirtland Central boys basketball team made a major statement today when it defeated the 10th-ranked team in the state, only one night after a letdown loss at home to Piedra Vista.
Junior swingman Terrin Willie and the Broncos exploded in the second quarter with a 30-7 run, and that propelled the hosts to win 77-62 over Grants at Bronco Arena.
The Pirates (13-4) came into the game ranked 10th in New Mexico by MaxPreps.com — 24 spots ahead of KC.
Willie was the Broncos' catalyst in the second, scoring 12 points while going four for four from the free-throw line and even dishing out a no-look assist. KC coach Brian Dowdy said Willie, who tied Bryson Dowdy with a game-high 19 points, long has been capable of producing the way he did against Grants.
"Terrin has been the player that, if anybody's watched us play the last three of four games, we see every day in practice, year around. And we've just been waiting for this," Dowdy said. "You saw tonight what he could do. Inside, outside — he works his tail off in the weight room. And it's all translating for him."
The Broncos (8-7) extended their 15-point halftime lead in the third quarter, moving ahead by 21 points by quarter's end. Bryson Dowdy was aggressive in the third in attacking the basket on his way to 9 points in the period and a three-of-five mark from the charity stripe.
On the defensive end, Nathan Enoah was a force with three blocked shots in the third as his Broncos outscored the Pirates 24-16 in that quarter.
Grants woke up in the fourth, thanks in part to one of Class 5A's top scorers, Matt Vail, who notched 7 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth. Vail is averaging a shade more than 21 points per game this season.
The Pirates cut the deficit to 9 with less than two minutes to go, but Dowdy helped close the door with a pair of transition layups.
"Tonight, interestingly enough, nobody will ever believe we didn't game plan for Matt Vail," Dowdy said. "He scored 36 on us when we played them over there. And that wasn't our game plan. The game plan was to get back to our solid man defense. People are going to laugh when you say, 'Solid defensive effort' and you give up 62, but again, we scored 77, so you're going to give up some points when you score that much."
With the win, KC gets a measure of revenge against a Grants team that defeated the Broncos 74-56 on Dec. 12. Coach Dowdy said it was his first ever win over Grants as a head coach, and it was especially significant after his squad was upset by PV (8-9) just 24 hours prior. That loss was KC's first of the season to a team with a sub-.500 record.
The win caps a week in which KC went 3-1.
The Broncos start district play Thursday with a home tilt against Aztec (5-10).
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.