KC blocks Roswell's last-second shot

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

ALBUQUERQUE, March 15th, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

TOP: Kirtland Central Lady Broncos Taylor Henderson and Kalen Henderson carry the state championship trophy after defeating Roswell, 42-41, March 9 at the UNM Pit in Albuquerque.

BOTTOM: Lady Bronco Raquel Woody (23) shoots as Roswell defenders look on March 9 at the UNM Pit. Kirtland narrowly defeated Roswell, 42-41, to win the state title.

M ake no mistake: the Kirtland Central girls' basketball team has put together one of the most astonishing dynasties in New Mexico high school sports.

Since 1979, the Lady Broncos have appeared in 30 state title games and so when the brackets were released, KC coach Kevin Holman liked their chances as a No. 4 seed.

And just like they have been doing, the KC girls kept the tradition alive by reaching the finals of the Class 4A title game.

This year the Lady Broncos faced a good Roswell team and claimed their 19th state title when senior guard Arnetia Begay swatted away a potential game-winning shot from Roswell's Arianna Gomez with time running out.

"I was just thinking 'She can't make it, she can't make it,'" Begay said. "So I just jumped and the ball hit my hand. It was amazing and I'm still in shock."

"That was my only block of the season," she later quipped.

Her block ended a mesmerizing finish as KC held on to a 42-41 win before a near-capacity crowd at the Pit in Albuquerque last Friday night.

"They expect to be here and you know they've been watching Kirtland Central play basketball at the Pit since they were little girls," Holman said. "It's unbelievable and they deserved it and no one can take No. 19 away from them."

With that, the Lady Broncos have more state titles and more consecutive state titles - eight - than any other hoops team regardless of gender in New Mexico history.

The Eldorado girls have 14 while the Hobbs boys have earned 16 titles with their first coming in 1956.

"Besides your kid being born this is the greatest feeling in the world," Holman said. "I am serious because this is what you work for and we've been on a mission since February 7th when we lost to Santa Fe Indian. We told ourselves that we're not going to lose again."

Still title No. 19 appeared to be in jeopardy as Kirtland Central was called for a traveling violation with eight seconds left.

And after calling a timeout, Roswell coach Joe Carpenter designed a play to free up his best two shooters in the corner.

"We got the look we wanted," Carpenter said. "We just didn't get it off in time."

As mentioned before, it was Begay's block that preserved the win, but early on it seemed like KC was hitting on all cylinders.

After Roswell went up 5-2 on a 3-point shot from Marika Trujillo, the Lady Broncos scored 15 of the next 18 points.

KC senior guard Darla Woody started that rally with a 10-foot jumper before sophomore teammate Taylor Henderson hit two consecutive treys.

In the midst of that run, Roswell hit 3-for-4 free throws before Woody ended the first quarter with a layup for a 12-8 Kirtland advantage.

KC then pushed their lead to 17-8 with 6:35 to go until the break on a 3-point play by Woody before the Coyotes stopped the bleeding with a 2-point basket by junior post Myla Woods-Brown. She led Roswell with 11 points while Trujillo added 10.

Both players tallied 4 points each in the second quarter but most of the offense was coming from the team in yellow and purple. KC made 4 of 6 treys with Begay knocking in 2 for a 31-21 halftime lead.

"We started the game shooting well and we figured they were going to zone us," Holman said. "Our girls stepped it up and made their shots."

But for the next 15 minutes, this game was all Roswell as they opened the second half on a 10-0 run with Diana Carrillo accounting for four of those points. Carrillo's layup with 5:34 tied the game at 31-all.

"Kirtland found ways to get open in our zone defense in that first half, but in the second half we were desperate," Carpenter said. "We had to come out on fire because we couldn't drop down by 15 and stay in it."

The Coyotes added 15 more points and outscored KC 15-3 to take a 36-34 edge heading into the fourth.

With the momentum on their side, Roswell never relinquished the lead until Woody capped a 4-0 Kirtland run with a basket with 55 seconds left in the game.

Her 13th point was the last point scored as KC won this one by playing defense.

"We have to give Roswell some credit," Holman said. "They came back in that second half. They controlled the whole way except for the last couple of minutes."

"In the locker room we knew we had to give 16 more minutes," Woody added. "I don't know what happened in the third quarter but when it counted we all stepped up."

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