BASKETBALL

Kirtland Central, Navajo Prep open tournament play with wins

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − The Kirtland Central High School girls basketball team opened tournament play this week at Roswell High School with a runaway win over Belen, keeping the Lady Broncos record this season unblemished with their 11th consecutive win.

Meantime, the Navajo Prep boys basketball team also remained unbeaten this season after beating Goddard in opening round action of the Poe Corn Invitational at Goddard High School.

Here's a recap of Tuesday's opening round tournament play.

Girls Basketball

KIRTLAND CENTRAL 66, Belen 32

After a shaky start, the Kirtland Central High School girls basketball team found their offensive rhythm, outscoring Belen 50-17 in the final three quarters of a 66-32 win Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the Goddard Holiday Classic.

The Lady Broncos started the game slowly, missing on a few open looks and playing a bit careless on defense. Kirtland Central led 16-11 after the first quarter as both teams turned the ball over several times and Belen failed to convert on easy scoring opportunities.

Kirltand Central High School girls basketball coach Devon Manning chats with his coaching staff prior to tipoff of their season opener, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 at Piedra Vista High School.

From there, the Lady Broncos found their rhythm, on both sides of the court. The full court press defense caused Belen to turn the ball over several times in the second quarter before turning those turnovers into points on the other end of the floor.

"It took us a little time to get going, but once we did we were pretty efficient," said Kirtland Central head coach Devon Manning. "Our defense needs to get better in the half court with boxing off and rebounding."

Kirtland Central took a 34-15 lead into the locker room at halftime, then rolled to their 11th straight win of the season without a loss and a second round game Wednesday afternoon against Roswell.

The Lady Broncos are one of only three girls basketball teams in the state with an unbeaten mark this season. Class 2A's Mesa Vista with a record of 7-0 and To'hajiilee, representing Class 1A, both have perfect records to start the season, with the Warriors boasting a record of 10-0.

Roswell advanced to the second round of the tournament with a first round win Tuesday over Lovington by a score of 58-43. The Lady Coyotes have a record of 6-4 this season.

Boys Basketball

NAVAJO PREP 56, Goddard 25

The Navajo Prep boys basketball team rolled to a convincing 56-25 win Tuesday night in the first round of the Poe Corn Invitational Tournament at Goddard High School, improving their record to 8-0 to start the season.

Junior Jude Thomas continues to be a dominant force the Eagles, who are one of only five remaining unbeaten programs in the state. Thomas is averaging nearly 17 points per game this season.

Tuesday's win sends the Eagles into a second round clash Wednesday night against Clovis. The Wildcats advanced to the second round after a 65-48 opening round victory over Los Alamos.

Piedra Vista, Kirtland Central will face off in consolation round

After coming up short in their first round games of the Poe Corn Invitational Tournament in Roswell, both the Piedra Vista and Kirtland Central boys basketball teams will face off in Wednesday's second round in a consolation bracket game.

The Panthers lost in the first round to Lovington by a final of 68-61 while Kirtland Central lost to the host Roswell Coyotes by a final of 82-49. Lovington and Roswell will meet in a winners bracket semifinal game with the winner set to face either Clovis or Navajo Prep.

The Panthers (1-10) will be looking to end a three-game losing streak when they face the Broncos (6-5) at Roswell High School on Wednesday at 6 p.m.