Important week of action coming up in prep basketball

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − A massive district showdown among two of the top-ranked girls teams in the state is just one of several important games coming up this week in high school basketball.

Meantime, a scramble atop the standings in the boys race for District 1-4A supremacy will also be in focus during a busy week on the courts.

Here's a glance at some of this week's biggest basketball matchups.

Girls Basketball

Farmington (17-1) at Eldorado (8-7), Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Sophomore Bella Hines is the leading scorer in the state of New Mexico this season, averaging nearly 28 points per game. As a freshman, Hines scored nearly 600 points for the Lady Golden Eagles, including an impressive 74 points in three games against Farmington last year.

Eldorado (8-7 overall, 1-0 District) has won four of their last five games. The Lady Scorpions, who entered the week ranked second in Class 5A, will hope to extend their three-game win streak over Eldorado when they tip off this week.

Kirtland Central (17-1) at Gallup (15-3), Saturday, 7 p.m.

Coming into the week, the Lady Broncos and Lady Bengals have combined for 32 wins and four losses on the season. They're the two highest-ranked teams in Class 4A and both teams have recent state titles under their belts, with Gallup winning the Class 4A state championship in 2020 while Kirtland Central grabbed the title last spring.

The two teams have been on a collision course for this matchup, the first of two over a 19-day timeframe, since the start of the season.

Farmington's Kamalani Anitielu (3) and Eldorado's Bella Hines (3) scramble for a loose ball at mid-court in the first quarter of the first round 5A state playoff game on Friday, March 4, 2022 at the Scorpion Arena.

Both Kirtland Central and Gallup average 62 points per game on the season, while the Lady Broncos surrender only 30 points per game with the Lady Bengals giving up 40 points per contest.

The teams are both in the middle of win streaks heading into the week, with Gallup having won six straight. Kirtland Central suffered their only loss of the season two weeks ago at home against Farmington, one of the top-ranked teams in Class 5A in the state. Since then, the Lady Broncos have won four straight games.

This will be the 32nd meeting of the two schools dating back to 2007, with Kirtland Central owning a 17-14 advantage in the series. Kirtland Central has won four of their last five contests over the Lady Bengals.

Boys Basketball

Crownpoint (13-4) at Navajo Prep (14-2), Tuesday, 7 p.m.

In a battle of the Eagles, Crownpoint soars into this important District 1-3A matchup having won four straight and hoping to improve upon their unblemished district season.

Navajo Prep, three-time defending district champions and also winners of four straight games, are prepared for a good one Tuesday night at the Eagles Nest.

"The crowd will be great and the competition will be intense," said Navajo Prep coach Matt Melvin. "These are the games you want at this point in the season."

Gallup's Brett Baker shoots a jumper against Navajo Prep's Orion King (34) and Lucious Hale (23) in the third quarter of the Gallup Bengal Boys Invitational Basketball Tournament semifinal game on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.

Crownpoint was the District 1-3A runner-up last season behind Navajo Prep. Both teams advanced to the state tournament and were eliminated in the second round. Navajo Prep, seeded fifth in the tournament, lost a heartbreaker to fourth-seeded St. Michael's, while Crownpoint was eliminated by top-ranked Socorro.

Navajo Prep owns a 15-8 advantage in their overall series with Crownpoint dating back to 2006, but have lost two of their last their last three showdowns.

Gallup (10-6) at Kirtland Central (11-6), Friday, 7 p.m.

The task for Kirtland Central is a difficult one this week, as they'll play three games this week, thanks to weather conditions which forced a postponement of a scheduled home game against Aztec last week.

In all, nearly a dozen games were postponed and moved to later dates this month, putting teams in a bind as far as playing multiple games in a week and sometimes having to travel to and from games in less than ideal conditions.

For the Broncos, the fortunate part of the quick turnaround in game times, they'll play all three of those games at home, with District 1-4A champion Gallup coming to Bronco Arena on Friday night.

"For us, we're going to rest over the weekend and plan on being fresh for all three of these games," said Kirtland Central head coach Brian Dowdy. "Every coach has a different strategy and ours is to be well-rested and full of energy."

Gallup has won each of their last four meetings against Kirtland Central. Since 2018, the Broncos have only recorded one win in their last 12 games against the Bengals.