Kara Watchman's 16 points aren't enough to help Lady Bobcats fend off upset bid by ninth-seeded Lovington

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BLOOMFIELD — The District 1-5A tournament champion Bloomfield girls basketball team had a disastrous final few minutes of the fourth quarter tonight, and it cost the Lady Bobcats their season.

No. 8 Bloomfield (19-9) let a 7-point lead with two minutes and 25 seconds to go in the fourth quarter slip away and lost 50-49 to No. 9 Lovington at Bobcat Gym in the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament.

The Lady Bobcats had an early lead and a late lead, but couldn't fend off the feisty Lady Wildcats (14-16), who benefited from three turnovers on Bloomfield's final four possessions.

"We kind of panicked a little bit at the end. I think we expected to win by more than we were leading by," Bloomfield coach Tom Adair said. "I told them Lovington was a good team. You've got to take care of the basketball, you can't panic, you have to be step up and be ready to play, no matter what."

Lovington maintained a slim lead over Bloomfield for much of the middle two quarters, but watched that lead go up in flames when Kara Watchman started attacking the rim in the fourth quarter. She made her presence felt with two hard-fought layups and a three-of-four free-throw mark for the frame.

Watchman, who had 10 of her game-high 16 points in the final quarter, nearly reversed Bloomfield's fortunes when she drained a pull-up 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds to go to put her team behind by only 1 point. But Lovington was able to narrowly inbound the ball and hold on as time expired.

The referees had to confer immediately after the game to discuss whether Lovington violated the five-second inbound rule, but they stood by their decision after a brief meeting, at which time the Lady Wildcats and their bench erupted in jubilation.

Adair said he thinks this season will be remembered fondly by his roster and coaches, despite the sour ending.

"We had good senior leadership, and we had a good season," Adair said. "It didn't end the way we wanted it to. We won the district tournament, which was awesome. Played good defense. But we've got to have the right mindset at all times. Lovington's a very athletic team, and we just made too many mistakes. You can't do that against a good team."

Shiprock 64, Santa Fe Indian School 38

It was rocky at times, but Shiprock won its Class 4A opening-round state tournament game over Santa Fe Indian School 64-38 tonight at the Chieftain Pit.

The No. 2 Lady Chieftains (23-5) were great to start with a 16-5 first-quarter advantage, but the No. 15 Lady Braves (16-11) went on a 12-3 run to tighten things up in the second quarter.

"That's one thing I told the girls, is (SFIS) has nothing to lose, they're going to come at you," Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson said.

But the Lady Chiefs got back on track after halftime behind Tanisha Begay's 18 points and Melanie Secody's 16. The bench also came through for Shiprock.

"We were really appreciative of our bench tonight. That, and our defense," Henderson said. "Santa Fe started to get rattled on our pressing, so we extended it to a full-court press on them, and that's something we haven't done in a while."

Shiprock faces No. 10 Navajo Prep (16-10) on Tuesday at The Pit in Albuquerque. It will be the District 1-4A rivals' fourth meeting since Jan. 24. The Lady Chieftains have won the previous three.

Española Valley 35, Aztec 30

No. 14 Aztec quieted the gym of No. 3 Española Valley with an admirable three-quarter performance.

The Lady Tigers just couldn't do it for four full quarters.

The Lady Sundevils (20-6) overcame a 5-point fourth-quarter deficit to escape its own home gym with a 35-30 first-round 5A tourney win over Aztec.

"We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, and they hit a couple of 3s," Aztec coach Robert McCaskill said. "Their style of play is to hold the ball as long as they possibly can. We forced a charge late, but then turned it over, had to foul and that was it."

Aztec (15-14) made it a game with its defense. The Lady Tigers held Española Valley season-leading scorer and team captain Alexis Lovato to only 7 points in the game.

Lady Tigers senior Makayla McCaskill had a solid final outing of her prep career with three 3-pointers and a team-high 11 points.

Coach McCaskill said a lack of execution down the stretch was the major problem.

"We've got to be mindful of the moment," he said. "We were in their house, crowd was quiet, coach was frustrated and we didn't finish them off. We gave them energy by turning it over and missing defensive assignments. It was a great effort, but there were a couple of big mistakes."

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577. 

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