BLOOMFIELD — The Kirtland Central girls basketball team did everything it needed to tonight to topple Bloomfield and move into a tie with the Lady Bobcats atop the District 1-5A standings.
The Lady Broncos jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead and never trailed on the way to a 50-40 victory at Bobcat Gym.
"We had a few mental breakdowns, but I think our defense has been playing really well lately. We held them to 16 points in the first half, and we've been keeping a lot of teams down pointwise," KC coach John Zecca said. "It's a good win, because we've struggled at keeping leads in the second half. We tried to stay a lot looser and we came in with the attitude of having fun."
The loss is Bloomfield's second in a row after last week's heartbreaking 74-72 loss to Gallup, and Bloomfield coach Tom Adair said he thinks the Lady Bobcats put too much pressure on themselves to try to bounce back from the loss.
The pressure felt was evident at the free-throw line, where the Lady Bobcats (17-6, 6-2) missed 14 of their 21 attempts.
"We weren't relaxed and were super tight, and I don't know why," Adair said. "We missed a ton of shots we usually make and missed a lot of layups."
The Lady Broncos (12-9, 7-2) got their usual production from junior guard Haile Gleason, who finished with 22 points, but junior Jerica Holiday and freshman Jaymie Smart had breakout games for KC.
"I think Jerica Holiday did a great job filling in tonight in a lot of different spots. She played the four and the five and did a great job for us when we really needed her," Zecca said. "Another girl that really stepped up tonight was Jaymie Smart. She's been playing (junior varsity) all year, and she came in and contributed quite a bit, and that's what we're going to need at this time of the year."
Kara Watchman led Bloomfield with 13 points.
KC and Bloomfield both sit at 6-2 in district play.
KC has one game left on the schedule and will close out the regular season on Friday, hosting Gallup (11-12, 4-4).
Bloomfield has a quick turnaround, and will travel to Gallup on Wednesday to play the Lady Bengals in a makeup game that was postponed because of weather earlier in the season. After Gallup, Bloomfield will play at Farmington (10-14, 4-5) on Friday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.