Kirtland Central Lady Broncos fall to Los Lunas in 4A state championship game rematch

Matthew Asher, Carlsbad Current-Argus
Kirtland Central's Jaymie Smart looks to pass the ball against Los Lunas during the 4A girls basketball state championship game on Friday, March 13, 2020 at Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque. Los Lunas won, 47-33.

ALBUQUERQUE — Good things and bad things come in 3s. For Kirtland Central, 3s weren't on its side during Friday's 4A girls basketball state finals rematch against Los Lunas.

LL, meanwhile, benefited from some key 3s and won 47-33 Friday at Dreamstyle Arena. The Lady Tigers won their fifth title in eight years.

With 3.1 seconds left in the first half, Los Lunas had possession. A long, full-court pass eventually found its way to Natalie Jojola, who drained a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Lady Tigers a 23-16 lead heading into the second half.

The third quarter was a miserable one for Kirtland Central. The Lady Broncos made a single free throw, and Los Lunas added 10 points to take a 33-17 lead into the fourth quarter.

Los Lunas shot 6-of-15 from 3-point range, 17-of-33 overall. Kirtland shot 6-of-26 from beyond the arc, 10-of-41 altogether.

Kirtland Central coach Devon Manning admitted he made coaching mistakes that cost his team a chance to fight back in the third quarter.

“I apologize to these girls for that,” Manning said. “It could have been worse. We could have not been playing…I don’t know what it was. Give (Los Lunas) credit on their pressure. That’s where I failed to put them in the proper offense. That’s where I failed to put them in what I thought would be successful. When we found success, it was too late.”

Even so, players embraced playing in back-to-back state finals, let alone having the chance to play Friday amid the coronavirus scare in New Mexico.

“That was our plan from the very beginning (of the season) was to get back here from last year,” Kirtland guard Melanie Yazzie said. “We came up short, but we got here.”

Yazzie was the lone Lady Bronco in double figures with 11 points. Tatelyn Manheimer and Monique Shim combined for 11 points.

Kirtland's season ended at 23-7. Los Lunas (27-4) will move up to Class 5A next season.

Matthew Asher covers sports for the Carlsbad Current-Argus. He can be reached at 575-628-5524, masher@currentargus.com or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.

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