BASKETBALL

Lady Tigers earn big win in opening round tournament action

Kirtland Central Lady Broncos and Navajo Prep boys basketball remain unbeaten on season after blowout wins in tournament action on Wednesday.

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC − Trailing 13-7 at halftime, the Aztec High School girls basketball team rallied at home in the second half to earn a convincing win Wednesday night in first round action of the Rumble in the Jungle Tournament at Lillywhite Gym.

Meantime, the Aztec High boys team came up short in their opening round game Wednesday night, losing to Rock Point (Ariz.) by a final of 75-59.

Here's a recap of basketball tournament action from around the state.

Girls Basketball

KIRTLAND CENTRAL 56, Roswell 34

The Kirtland Central High School girls basketball team extended their perfect start to the season Wednesday night to 12 straight games, rolling over Roswell 56-34 in a second round match of the Goddard Holiday Classic.

The Lady Broncos, for the second straight game, overcame a slow start before pulling clear in the second and third quarters to earn the win. Kirtland Central remains one of only three teams in the state this season with an unblemished record.

Kirtland Central's win streak, which dates back to last season, has now reached 23 games. Last season ended with a record of 27-5 and a Class 4A championship, defeating Bernalillo. The Lady Broncos haven't lost a game since Feb. 4, 2022 on the road at Gallup. The 23-game win streak is tied for the ninth-longest by a girls basketball team in state history.

The Lady Broncos will look to remain perfect on the season in Thursday's championship game when they face Goddard. The Lady Rockets (8-4) have won five in a row and advanced to the finals with a 26-22 win over Albuquerque Academy.

AZTEC 38, Wingate 31

The Aztec High School girls basketball team outscored Wingate 31-18 in the second half and earned just their third win of the season, coming from behind to capture the opening round game of the Rumble in the Jungle girls tournament Wednesday night at Lillywhite Gym.

Trailing by six entering the locker room at halftime, the Lady Tigers stormed back, outscoring the Lady Bears 20-9 in the third period. That surge allowed Aztec to take the lead on their way to victory and a second round winners bracket matchup against Rock Point (Ariz.) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

"The girls came out of the break and played solid defense allowing us to get some easy baskets early," said head coach Bill McLaughlin. "We found a little bit of an offensive rhythm as well."

Aztec's Cataya Moffett shoots a short jumper against Wingate's LouAnn Yonnie in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, December 28, 2022 on the first day of the Rumble In The Jungle Tournament at Aztec High's Lillywhite Gym.

Aztec's win snapped a two-game losing streak and improved their record to 3-7 on the season. The Lady Tigers are just one win shy of matching their win total from last season.

"We're just starting to get healthy after some early injuries and we understand how we want to play defense," McLaughlin said.

Boys Basketball

SPRING VALLEY 67, Farmington 61

The Spring Valley (Nevada) High School boys basketball team secured a first round win Wednesday over Farmington 67-61 in the Hobbs Holiday Tournament, forcing the Scorpions into the consolation bracket in their final days of action during the calendar year.

Spring Valley, with a record of 5-5 this season, will face off with Artesia in the winners bracket, while the Scorpions, losers of two straight games, will square off with Cleveland in the consolation bracket.

Farmington, which competed for the championship of the Marv Sanders Memorial Invitational Tournament just two weekends ago, have a record of 5-4 this season.

NAVAJO PREP 62, Clovis 34

Earning their ninth straight win without a loss on the season, the Navajo Prep boys basketball team stormed past Clovis by a final of 62-34 on Wednesday night, advancing the Eagles into the championship game of the Poe Corn Tournament at Roswell High School and a showdown with the host team on Thursday night.

Jude Thomas and Orion King each scored 18 points on the night in the win over Clovis. Tylen Morris also had a big night, scoring 14 points.

The Eagles, with a record of 9-0 this season, are one of only five boys teams in the state with a perfect record to start the season. Navajo Prep opened play in the tournament on Tuesday with an emphatic 56-25 win over Goddard. The Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 32 points per game this season.

"Both Goddard and Clovis gave us bigger and faster guys than we have seen. Both have really good athletes," said Eagles coach Matt Melvin. "Those have been good tests to see if we could adjust to that type of speed. Overall we just continue to tweak little things and improve game to game."

Roswell, with a record of 5-6 this season, advanced to the finals with a 76-32 rout over Lovington. The Coyotes opened the tournament on Tuesday by knocking off Kirtland Central by a score of 82-49.

KIRTLAND CENTRAL 66, Piedra Vista 39

Bouncing back off a disappointing loss on Tuesday, the Kirtland Central High School boys basketball team earned a big win, blowing out Piedra Vista 66-39 in a second round consolation round game Wednesday afternoon in the Poe Corn Tournament at Roswell.

Led by Satchel Hogue, who also captured second place in the tournament's three-point shooting contest prior to the start of Wednesday's games, the Broncos have won two of their last three games and will wrap up tournament play on Thursday when they face off against Goddard.

The Rockets are coming off a 47-31 win on Wednesday over Los Alamos after losing their first game of the tournament to Navajo Prep.

The Broncos, with a record of 7-5 this season, will face off with Piedra Vista again next week in their first game of the new year when they visit the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse on Friday, Jan. 6.

ROCK POINT 75, Aztec 59

The Rock Point (Ariz.) High School boys basketball team extended their win streak to four straight games, winning Wednesday's opening round game of the Rumble in the Jungle Tournament over the host Aztec High School team.

Led by junior Zyon Tsosie and senior To'aheedliinii Bahozoni, the Cougars will face off Thursday night against Valley (Ariz.) High School. It will be the second time this season those two schools have faced each other, with Rock Point having defeated the Pirates by a score of 59-46 in a home game on Dec. 15.

Aztec drops into the consolation bracket and will face Wingate on Thursday night. The Bears lost their opening round game of the tournament, falling short 58-43 against Valley.