BASKETBALL

Latest polls show enormous edge for Lady Broncos basketball team

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − Coming off the heels of a 51-point blowout win earlier in the week on the road over Navajo Prep, the Kirtland Central High School girls basketball team have a dominant edge in both the latest MaxPreps poll and the New Mexico coaches poll.

Entering the final week of the calendar year, the Lady Broncos (10-0) are not only the top-ranked Class 4A team in the state according to MaxPreps, but currently are the fourth best team in the state of New Mexico in all classifications, behind only 5A schools like Hobbs, Volcano Vista and Farmington.

The Lady Broncos have cruised to victory in all 10 of their games of this season, with an average margin of victory of 37 points per game. The defending state champions in Class 4A are one of only five teams in New Mexico still without a loss this season. Their smallest margin of victory, 13 points, came in two tournament games earlier in the season against Dixie (Utah) High School and earlier this month against Monument Valley (Arizona).

In the most recent coaches poll, Kirtland Central received 16 of a possible 18 first place votes in the Class 4A rankings. The other two first place votes went to District 1-4A rival Gallup, who the Broncos will face twice later this season when district play opens next month.

Kirtland Central's Teghan Begay (22) looks to get inside Navajo Prep's Layla Harrison (32) in the first quarter of a girls basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 at the Eagles Nest.

Still, head coach Devon Manning doesn't want to focus on what the pollsters say. He wants his team to remain focused on the next game on the schedule.

"In my opinion, we aren't playing like the top team in the state," said Manning. "And we still haven't seen the best of a lot of the competition in the state, so it just isn't a factor for us right now."

The Lady Broncos will cap off the calendar year at the Goddard Holiday Classic Invitational beginning Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. with a game against Belen. Kirtland Central will open 2023 with a home game against Farmington, who has opened the season with a record of 10-1 and currently ranked fourth in the most recent coaches poll among 5A schools.

The Lady Scorpions are coming off a 73-46 win last Thursday night over Monument Valley (Ariz.), led by Kamalani Anitielu's 24 point performance.

Boys Basketball

Following their loss to Boulder Creek (Ariz.) High School last weekend in the championship game of the Marv Sanders Memorial Invitational Tournament, Farmington High's boys team had an up-and-down week, beginning with a 107-77 road win over Bernalillo on Tuesday night.

The Scorpions (5-3) then lost on the road Thursday, falling just short in a road trip to Monument Valley (Ariz.) and are currently ranked 14th in the state in Class 5A by MaxPreps. Two of their three losses this season have come against teams ranked higher than them or to teams from larger classifications in neighboring states.

Farmington also beat a Chaparral (Colo.) High School team during last weekend's tournament which competed in the Colorado Class 6A state tournament last season.

Farmington's Cody Vassar-Steen collides with Boulder Creek's Carson Gates during the second quarter of the championship game of the Marv Sanders Memorial Invitational Tournament, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 at Scorpion Arena.

The Scorpions got great contributions in last week's win over Bernalillo from Cody Vassar-Steen, who scored 21 points, leading five players in double figures. The team hit 14 3-point shots during the win with Trel Greigo scoring 15 points to go along with Landon Begay and Rodney Irving's 14 points and Lander Willie, who scored 10.

"Our defense and our rebounding were both at a very high level," said head coach Larry-Don Chitty after the win at Bernalillo. "Just one of those games you wish you could bottle up and open every night."

Farmington will wrap up the calendar year this week at Hobbs High School, where they will be participating in the Hobbs Holiday Classic, opening play on Wednesday at 1:15 p.m. against Spring Valley (Nevada) High School.