KC boys basketball team was 'Aztec Strong' in victory

Broncos say they played with extra emotion in win over Miyamura

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com
Wearing a black headband and orange socks, Kirtland Central shooting guard Terrin Willie fights his way to the basket for a layup during the fourth quarter against Miyamura in Thursday's Marv Sanders Invitational quarterfinals at Farmington High School.
  • Kirtland Central led by only 1 point at halftime, but broke the game open in the second half.
  • Many Broncos players say they are friends with Aztec students.

FARMINGTON — Sporting black headbands and orange socks, the Kirtland Central boys basketball team was “Aztec Strong” following today’s shooting at Aztec High School.

KC repeatedly drove to the basket for quick breakaway layups in the fourth quarter during today’s 69-45 win over Miyamura at the Marv Sanders Invitational quarterfinals at Farmington High School.

The Broncos wore the headbands and socks to show support for Aztec High students.

“When I was out there, and we were scoring, I was thinking of them,” Broncos senior forward Jaben Haws said. “This whole county’s home, it’s not just Kirtland. My mom grew up in Aztec, so that’s a little home for me. We all have friends in Aztec. I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”

KC and Aztec are foes on the court and on the field, but many of the players are friends in San Juan County. And the Broncos sent that message loud and clear.

“Even though we play against them in sports and it gets heated, we’re all people, and we look out for each other,” KC senior shooting guard Terrin Willie said.

Broncos players found out about the shooting earlier today during what they initially thought was a routine safety drill involving the locking of doors.

They soon learned of the tragedy that emerged: three people, including the alleged shooter, were found dead.

“It just all went quiet for 10, 15 minutes in class,” Haws said. “We saw what happened on people’s phones and through teachers. We all went in shock.”

The Kirtland Central boys basketball team wears black headbands and orange socks in support of Aztec High School after Thursday's shooting at AHS.

Having grown up in San Juan County, senior wing Bryson Dowdy said he never guessed something like today's shooting would happen here.

“I didn’t really believe it at first. I was like, ‘No way.’ Just out of nowhere,” Dowdy said.

KC was only up 30-29 at halftime, and that thin margin didn’t sit well with the team.

“We thought about everything that’s gone on today, and we just needed to fight through it,” Dowdy said.

The Broncos didn’t let the score differential stay that way.  KC broke the game open in the fourth quarter and rolled to the 24-point victory.

“We’ve grown up with these kids. I’ve known some of them my whole life,” Dowdy said. “We fought for the whole cause and everything. I think it showed up on the board. All of us played with a little extra emotion.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.