Kirtland girls punch ticket to 4A finals

Matthew Asher, Carlsbad Current-Argus
Kirtland Central Siigrid Lii'bilnaghahi attacks the basket Española Valley's Kaylinn Martinez (23) during Thursday's 4A state semifinals at Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque.

ALBUQUERQUE — The Kirkland Central Lady Broncos are state finals-bound for the first time since 2012, dominating Española Valley 55-23 in today’s 4A state semifinals in Albuquerque. 

All nine players scored for Kirtland.

How it happened

Kirtland Central (27-3) opened the game strong and never took its foot off the gas pedal.

Kirtland shot 19-for-47 and 8-for-20 from 3-point range, and it forced 22 turnovers on defense.

Turning point

In the second and third quarters, Kirtland shut down Española Valley (17-12), allowing just seven combined points during that span.

They said it

"It's a good feeling, but we didn't come here just to make the state finals. We're excited to be playing for the state title. 

"Espanola can get hot with all their 3's. We just said keep putting the pressure on. We can't let them get open looks and keep doing what we're doing, only better...Coach Estrada did a fantastic job with those girls. They've improved so much from when we played them in December. They had two upsets in a row."

— Devon Manning, Kirtland Central head coach

Stat leaders

Tatelyn Manheimer led the Lady Broncos with 15 points, while Siigrid Lii'bilnaghahi added seven points and nine rebounds.

Kaylinn Martinez had eight points for Española Valley.

Kirtland Central's Tatelyn Manheimer shoots and makes a 3-pointer from the far left corner against Española Valley during Thursday's 4A state semifinals at Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque.

What's next

Kirtland, which has won 24 of its last 25 games, will face Los Lunas (27-3) in the 4A state finals at 7 p.m. Friday in Albuquerque.

Matthew Asher can be reached at 575-628-5524, or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.