Bloomfield girls capture elusive District 1-5A title with help of senior guard

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BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield girls basketball team has been chasing a district title for years, and Friday night the Lady Bobcats finally captured the crown with a 41-33 win over Aztec in the District 1-5A tournament championship.

A Bloomfield district title seemed imminent for much of the season. The Lady Bobcats started the season 17-4 with a 7-0 mark in district play. For much of that stretch, senior guard Kara Watchman was a lynchpin of the team's success. Through Bloomfield's first 22 games, Watchman paced the Lady Bobcats with 14.2 points per game.

"She's developed a lot. She's matured a lot, and she understands the importance of the team," Bloomfield coach Tom Adair said. "I've always called her my warrior because when we need a big basket, she's the one who steps up and makes it. If we need a big play on defense or a rebound, she gets it for us. She gets us whatever we need so we can get a win."

After starting for Adair as a freshman, Watchman has seen her production increase every season, not only from her having a better understanding of the system, but also from reshaping her game to better suit the style of play.

As a sophomore, Watchman's game was centered around 3-point shooting. She'd hover around the 3-point line, launching shots at the first opening but only hitting on 23 of her 87 attempts. As a junior, the trend continued with nearly identical numbers, making 23 of 92 3-pointers.

But during last season, she began to change her game. She kept hoisting 3s, but also started looking for openings to attack the basket.

"My 3-pointers were kind of going downhill. I wanted to score more and help my team score more, so I started to drive more," Watchman said. "I'd either draw a foul or kick the ball to someone like Destiny (Walther) and all of the other post players."

The change in her game took full effect this season. As a result, she's had better shot selection from long range, and her 3-point field goal percentage is up, as are her assists and free throw shooting.

But it hasn't been all roses for Watchman in her senior season. The team began to crumble late in the district campaign and ended the regular season on a four-game losing skid.

Those struggles may have been the best thing for the Lady Bobcats. It's never easy to sustain greatness, and with every win, the pressure to maintain the high level of play increases. Sometimes a team needs to lose a few games to remember how the pain of defeat feels. Bloomfield has that pain fresh in its mind and will need to keep it close if the Lady Bobcats want to make a run at the state title in the next couple of weeks.

"I think us kind of falling apart and losing four times in a row made us want to fight more to get back to where we were," Watchman said. "I think we needed that. I think we got a little big headed, and when we lost those four games, we realized we needed to step it up."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648. 

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