Kirtland girls advance to 5A quarterfinals

Lady Broncos hold off late run by Farmington to win

Chantz Atcitty, special to the Daily Times

KIRTLAND — The Kirtland Central girls basketball team withstood a late second-half surge by district foe Farmington, escaping with a 54-45 win in tonight's 5A playoff opener at Bronco Arena.

Kirtland Central's Siigrid Lii'bilnaghahi attempts a shot over Farmington defender Jessica Lynch during Friday's state tournament game at Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

The fifth-seeded Lady Broncos jumped on the 12th-seeded Lady Scorpions right away, opening the game on a 21-1 run. Kirtland got its offense going by cutting through gaps.

“We shifted the lineups a little bit. We provided a little support with the second group,” Kirtland Central coach John Zecca said. “We hadn’t been playing well against zone defenses. (Our play) is encouraging. We have to finish the game. We were lucky to escape.”

The Lady Scorpions didn’t score their first field goal until the waning seconds of the first quarter, but they soon got things going thanks to some quick inside buckets by Chloe Finch.

Farmington began chipping away at a 25-point deficit in the second half. The Scorpions soon made it a three-possession game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early hole they got into.

Farmington's Brianna Charley passes the ball to a teammate during Friday's state tournament game against Kirtland Central at Bronco Arena in Kirtland.

“I felt the girls played hard, they fought hard. We had to deal with some things unfortunately at a disadvantage,” Farmington coach Brady Rivers said. “Hopefully, we can build on this (as a program) and move on.”

Haile Gleason and Tiajhae Nez scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Kirtland. Finch led Farmington with 14 points.

Kirtland (17-10) will face fourth-seeded St. Pius (19-8) in the 5A state quarterfinals at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday at University of New Mexico's Dreamstyle Arena, commonly known as The Pit, in Albuquerque.

Chantz Atcitty is a contributor for and covers sports in northwest New Mexico.