KIRTLAND — The Kirtland Central boys basketball team took care of business against Bloomfield tonight, and in doing so, kept its hat in the ring for No. 1 seed of next week's District 1-5A tournament.
The Broncos (15-9, 7-2) slipped up a few times, but were ultimately able to trump the Bobcats 62-56 at Bronco Arena.
First-place Farmington also won tonight, but should the Broncos win on Saturday and the Scorpions lose, the two teams will battle it out early next week in a one-game tiebreaker to determine the top seed in the tourney.
KC had a 16-point lead with under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but wound up winning by only 6 points.
Broncos coach Brian Dowdy said it was a struggle for his team to close out Bloomfield (12-12, 5-4) tonight, but he'll certainly take the win.
"The end only concerns me because I'm trying to get some guys' confidence up," Dowdy said. "I'm giving them a chance to finish and they're not doing that. You gotta get better. But having said that, we let them go on that run in the first half, and I was really proud of the way we bounced back in the second half and really took control of the game."
The Broncos were up by 11 points at the beginning of the second quarter, but Adriano Stevenson took a blowtorch to that lead with 14 second-quarter points. His outburst put the visitors behind by only 1 point at halftime.
Bloomfield head coach Randy Crockett confirmed that he was serving a one-game suspension for critical remarks he made about officials that were published in The Daily Times, so assistant Stan Kozimor coached against the Broncos. Crockett, who said he listened to tonight's game on the radio, thought his team's initial slow start made for an evening-long uphill battle.
"The coaches had to call a timeout in the first quarter to kind of get them motivated," Crockett said. "It sounded like we just didn't show up to play. I have to take responsibility for that, with me not being there."
The Broncos charged out of halftime and increased their lead as six different players scored points for them in the third quarter.
Bloomfield battled back again and cut the deficit down to 5 points late in the frame, but turned the ball over on its last three possessions of the quarter, and KC capitalized each time with 6 points off those miscues.
KC then slowed down the pace in the fourth. Dowdy said a methodical approach on offense was the plan.
"That's what we worked on all week — we wanted the fast break, and if it wasn't there, we wanted to pull (Bloomfield) out of their zone," Dowdy said. "(Bloomfield) is fantastic in their zone, so when we got that lead we wanted to pull them out. And it worked."
The Bobcats made one last push inside the last two minutes of the game, and had they capitalized more from the free-throw line they would have really given the hosts a scare. Bloomfield was just 5-for-11 from the line down the stretch.
Bryson Dowdy led the way for the Broncos with 19 points. Stevenson finished with a team-high 20 for the Bobcats.
The Broncos visit Gallup (11-14, 5-4) on Saturday in both teams' season finale, the same day Bloomfield faces the tall task of knocking off Farmington (22-3, 8-1).
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.