Broncos heat up, run past Aztec 87-68
AZTEC — The Kirtland Central boys basketball team did what it does best tonight at Lillywhite Gym.
The Broncos pushed the tempo, got out in transition and ran past Aztec for an 87-68 victory over Aztec.
Three Broncos finished with 20 or more points in the win. Bryson Dowdy led the way with 25, and Jariah Setzer and Terrin Willie scored 20 each.
"We don't want to rely on one person for all of our scoring because sooner or later, someone is going to shut you down," KC coach Brian Dowdy said. "And it's not that Bryson, Jariah and Terrin are ball hogs. They usually lead us in scoring, but they also lead us in assists. We've got a lot of guys who can score."
After Aztec took a quick 6-2 lead, the Broncos went on a 12-0 run midway through the opening quarter. During the run, KC (13-8, 5-1) dominated the offensive glass, pulling down offensive rebounds for second-chance points.
Leading 21-14 to start the second quarter, KC went on another big run, outscoring the Tigers 13-2 over the first few minutes.
"Tonight, we got after it. We got up and down the floor and were attacking the basket. I was really happy with the first half," Dowdy said.
Down 44-28 to start the third quarter, Aztec (5-17, 0-6) went on a couple runs of its own. The Tigers chipped away at KC's lead throughout the quarter, cutting it to 57-52 with 1:30 to go in the third.
But the Broncos quickly regained control.
A foul against the Tigers, followed by a technical foul assessed for arguing the original call, sparked a 7-0 KC run over the next 35 seconds, pushing the lead to 64-52.
Trying to get back into the game, the Tigers settled for long 3-point attempts through much of the fourth quarter, which allowed the Broncos to extend their lead.
"We make eerily poor decisions at times. We'll come down and launch a 3 and still have three guys coming down the court," Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said. "Those are signs of our immaturity, but they'll be great learning experiences."
While the Tigers are still figuring out some aspects of game management, Steinfeldt said the team has made large strides in the past few weeks.
"I'm harping on the immaturity, but game to game and week to week, there are things we've made huge jumps in," he said. "Kirtland is a very good team, and now we can hang with teams like that from time to time. We just started at a point where we needed to grow a lot, we just haven't grown all the way yet."
Tanner Brooks paced Aztec with 20 points. Cody Smith added 16, and Chase Morrison finished with 13.
Immediately after the game, the gym was evacuated after a noxious gas was released in the foyer.
Several people were affected by the gas, feeling a burning sensation in their lungs, and needed medical attention from paramedics.
Members of the Aztec fire and police departments were at the scene. The type of gas or the cause of it were unknown.
With the win, KC stayed tied atop the District 1-5A standings with Farmington. The Broncos will play at Farmington (19-3, 5-1) on Thursday.
Aztec will host Bloomfield (11-10, 4-2) on Thursday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.