FARMINGTON — For the first time in his 14-year high school coaching career, Kirtland Central girls basketball coach John Zecca was absent from the sidelines while his team played.
And he picked quite the game to miss.
Battling the flu, Zecca was not at Bronco Arena tonight for his Lady Broncos' 55-42 win over Gallup, which brought a regular-season District 1-5A championship to Kirtland Central. The win also earned the Lady Broncos (13-9, 8-2) the No. 1 seed and a bye in next week's District 1-5A championship tourney, where an automatic state playoff bid is at stake.
Assistant Danny Hough took over as head coach for the night, and he oversaw a disciplined defensive effort by the Lady Broncos, which held Gallup (12-13, 5-5) to its second-lowest point total of the district season.
"It's really special for us to win district this year, and one of the reasons is because we moved up in class," Zecca said. "And this is a tough district. We don't have Shiprock with us anymore, but from top to bottom, anybody can beat you on any given night, I think. So with our youth, I'm very proud of our girls to be able to come together at the right time."
Bloomfield (17-8, 6-4) is free falling at a pivotal point of the season with four straight losses after losing 50-47 to Farmington tonight at Scorpion Gym. The Lady Scorpions are trending in the opposite direction, having won four consecutive contests.
The loss to FHS didn't affect Bloomfield's standing as the No. 2 seed in next week's tournament. The Lady Bobcats receive a bye along with KC, while Farmington (11-14, 5-5) takes the fourth seed behind No. 3 Gallup, which defeated Farmington twice this year and holds the tiebreaker between the two teams.
Aztec lost 50-49 to Miyamura tonight in Gallup, but because the Lady Tigers (13-12, 3-7) defeated the Lady Patriots (9-17, 3-7) 38-36 on Jan. 31, Aztec clips Miyamura by 1 point in the head-to-head, point-differential tiebreaker between the bottom two teams in the District 1-5A standings.
As a result, fifth-seeded Aztec heads to Farmington to play the Lady Scorpions on Monday, the same day No. 6 Miyamura visits Gallup High School to lock up with the Lady Bengals.
Everyone is off Tuesday, when re-seeding takes place in time for Wednesday's pair of semifinal games. The championship game is scheduled for Friday evening.
Shiprock rolls into District 1-4A Tournament with unblemished district record
Shiprock is more than ready for next week's District 1-4A tournament.
The Lady Chieftains (21-5, 6-0) trounced Thoreau 84-41 on the road tonight to finish unbeaten in district play. Coach Larenson Henderson said he couldn't be more pleased with his team's play of late.
"We're peaking at a good time right now," Henderson said. "The girls are really seeing the floor, and they're moving on the court. I'm really excited for this team."
Shiprock sped out to a 20-0 start at the Lady Hawks' (9-16, 0-6) expense and never looked back.
Navajo Prep (13-9, 3-3) defeated Wingate 67-63 on the road tonight, but since the Lady Bears (16-8, 3-3) defeated Prep by 9 points when the squads met on Feb. 3, Wingate breaks the tie and claims the No. 2 seed in next week's ladder-style tournament.
In that tournament, Prep hosts Thoreau on Monday, and the winner of that game goes on to play at Wingate Wednesday. Whomever wins Wednesday visits the Chieftain Pit and red-hot Shiprock for Friday's title game.
Piedra Vista boys, girls fall to Rio Rancho, secure lowest seeds in upcoming tourneys
Though they both have their season finales still to come Saturday, the Piedra Vista basketball teams are locked into the bottom seeds of their respective District 1-6A tournaments next week.
The Lady Panthers actually led Rio Rancho at halftime tonight, but fell 38-31. The margin of defeat was still a stark improvement compared to their Feb. 4 meeting, when the Lady Rams (15-11, 6-2) beat PV 75-38.
PV plays at Volcano Vista Saturday, but no matter the outcome of that game, the Lady Panthers are slated to visit Cleveland on Tuesday in the first do-or-die game of the 1-6A ladder tourney.
The PV boys (8-16, 0-7) lost to Rio Rancho (18-8, 5-3) 89-56 at home tonight and even though they are yet to host Volcano Vista (13-10, 3-4) in Saturday's season finale, the Panthers already know they will also be on the road Tuesday to play either Volcano Vista or Cibola in the first match-up of the boys' tourney.
Both the girls and boys District 1-6A tournaments are going with a Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday format this year.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.