KIRTLAND — A 27-0 mid-game run for the Kirtland Central girls basketball team was more than enough to put Aztec away tonight at Bronco Arena.
KC took the contest 57-34, and essentially won it in the third quarter, where the Lady Broncos trampled the visitors 19-0. The Lady Tigers were slow getting back on defense, and the Lady Broncos took advantage by nailing three 3-pointers in the period and eight overall.
The win means the Lady Broncos (9-8, 4-1 District 1-5A) have swept Aztec 2-0 in the season series. Winner of six of its last seven games, KC coach John Zecca said his young team is coming together after experiencing growing pains during the nondistrict schedule.
"With this group, it took them a while to get acclimated to the varsity game," Zecca said. "So I do have some girls with varsity experience, but just their youth, they were making a lot of youthful mistakes early in the year. We're starting to cut back on those, and we're playing better defense, too, I think."
KC got off to a 14-8 start before Aztec (12-8, 2-3) made a splash with an 8-2 run to tie the game. Makayla McCaskill led the charge with 8 of her team-high 11 points in the second.
There were four lead changes in the second, and it looked like a competitive second half was on the horizon until the Lady Tigers hit a road bump at the end of the second and crashed after halftime.
Aztec failed to score in the third quarter and was outplayed in every facet of the game during a 27-0 KC run that spilled across parts of three quarters. Lady Tigers coach Robert McCaskill said his coaching was going in one ear and out the other of his players during the long scoreless drought.
"When you work as hard as I do, and you're up at 2 o'clock in the morning, and you tell them the same thing over and over, you think, 'What do I tell them next?'" McCaskill said. "We want to stay loose and free, but that third quarter, we just went over it at halftime, that we couldn't have those runs and couldn't get down on ourselves when we made those mistakes."
The Aztec coach said he told his team to start the comeback with defense. But instead, he said he noticed his girls hang their heads after a couple of blown rotations led to made field goals for KC early in the third.
But the Lady Tigers didn't pack it in after the demoralizing third quarter and outscored the hosts 16-10 in the fourth.
Haile Gleason paced the Lady Broncos with a game-high 21 points. She was six for six from the free-throw line.
Both schools are back at it on Tuesday. KC is at home face Farmington (7-14, 1-5), while the Lady Tigers welcome the district-leading Lady Bobcats (16-4, 5-0) into Aztec.
Bloomfield 62, Miyamura 42
Bloomfield had little trouble with the Lady Patriots on the road tonight.
Bloomfield blitzed Miyamura (8-14, 2-4) with a 14-6 first-quarter run and rolled from there, winning 62-42 in Gallup.
When it comes to the Lady Bobcats and their success, it's been the same story since district play began: balance on offense and tough, disciplined defense.
"The key was our defense and then our bench; our bench played great," Bloomfield coach Tom Adair said. "We got a big 3 out of Eden Brown. Destiny (Walther) came out off the bench tonight and did a great job for us — she had 8 (points). Just a really good, team basketball game."
The Lady Bobcats put the game on ice with a 17-10 fourth-quarter advantage.
Freshman Halle Payne was Bloomfield's leading scorer with 14 points. Sierra Ortiz added 11 for Bloomfield.
Gallup 45, Farmington 38
Turnovers have been a recurring nightmare for Farmington and coach Brady Rivers this season.
The Lady Scorpions took a 2-point lead into halftime of their game against Gallup tonight, but their penchant for turning the ball over once again cost them a win, as they fell 45-38 at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.
"I'm at a loss for words," Rivers said. "We like to dribble the ball rather than pass it. And we get ourselves in trouble putting the ball on the floor rather than moving the ball through the air to break the press. I'm not really sure how to fix it. Otherwise, I think I would have fixed it by now."
Lyla Denny led the way with 14 points for the Lady Scorps, who have lost seven of their last eight games.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.