Dowdy's clutch play helps KC repel Bloomfield
Broncos escape home gym with a 57-52 win, will visit Farmington on Saturday in district title game
KIRTLAND — The Bloomfield boys basketball team has been a thorn in Kirtland Central's side all season long.
On Thursday night, for the second time in three meetings, KC held on by the skin of its teeth to oust Bloomfield 57-52 at Bronco Arena and advance to Saturday's District 1-5A Championship game against Farmington, the regular-season 1-5A champion.
It took a perfectly timed and indisputably clean blocked shot by Bryson Dowdy — which the play-making junior forward collected inbounds — for KC to stave off a Bloomfield squad that was charging on an 9-1 run to that point.
Holding onto large leads hasn't been the Broncos' strong suit this season, particularly when Bloomfield is the team occupying the opposing bench. In each of the rivals' three meetings, Bloomfield has outscored KC in the fourth quarter and by at least 5 points each time.
"With Bloomfield, it seems like they always hang around," Broncos coach Brian Dowdy said. "I have a lot of respect for that team. I think they always play hard. (Thursday night) they got hot and got confident they could keep doing better."
The Broncos came into the fourth quarter of the semifinal game with a 43-31 lead, but were barely able to escape. They hurt their own cause by constantly turning the ball over. Bloomfield smelled blood and increased the intensity on its half-court press, which only exacerbated KC's turnover problem.
"I think for some reason we always struggle against their press," Bryson Dowdy said. "We make a lot of dumb turnovers, and they capitalize."
Bryson Dowdy said his coach called timeout with about two minutes to go and told his players to stay out of the corners of the court once they crossed the half-court line.
"Just past half court is where we kept turning the ball over in the fourth quarter, right as soon as we passed the line," Bryson Dowdy said. "'Cause that's where they would run at us. We did a better job (after the timeout), but didn't fix it completely."
Brendon Charley and Ty Padilla teamed up to bury three 3-pointers in a span of just over a minute down the stretch to bring the Bobcats to within 3 points with less than 25 ticks left on the clock, putting the hosts in grave danger of blowing the game.
After a Jariah Setzer turnover, Bloomfield seized control of the ball and seemed poised to play spoiler at KC's home gym.
But Bryson Dowdy saved the day.
Charley, who received a pass under the hoop after the Setzer miscue, pump faked, then went up with the short-shot attempt in the paint, where Dowdy was waiting to cleanly swat the shot down. Dowdy then collected the ball and channeled his quarterback skills by heaving an outlet pass the length of the court to Terrin Willie, who leisurely banked in a short layup just before time expired.
"First, I wanted to yell at him for being undisciplined in the game," Brian Dowdy said. "But he made the right play there. He let (Charley) go up first, then he left his feet and blocked it. It let me breathe for the first time in a few minutes there."
Bryson Dowdy had no choice but to make the perfect play — had he fouled Charley, he risked bringing the Bobcats to within 1 point via a couple of made free throws. Even worse for KC, had Charley made the bucket, received the whistle and hit the freebie, the game would have likely gone into overtime.
"I was more going for the contest than the block, actually," Bryson Dowdy said. "The block just ... happened."
Now it's off to Scorpion Gym, where the Broncos are 0-2 this year against Farmington. But KC does have one win over FHS this year, and Bryson Dowdy played a paramount role in the Jan. 21 upset in Kirtland. Dowdy dropped a game-high 15 points, scored the game-winning layup and stole the ball in the waning seconds of the game to seal the win.
To recapture some of that magic in what will surely be a hostile environment on Saturday night Bryson Dowdy said his team needs to be nearly perfect. Just like his block was.
"We've got to take smart shots, finish at the rim and not turn the ball over," Bryson Dowdy said.
Tip-off for the KC-Farmington matchup is 7 p.m.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.