KC girls advances, seeking 20th state title
Kirtland Central High School is looking for state championship number 20.
The top-seeded Lady Broncos defeated No. 13 seed Espanola Valley 55-23 in the Class 4A semifinal game of the 2019 New Mexico Activities Association State Basketball Championships this morning.
The win put them in the finals with No. 2 Los Lunas tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Dreamstyle Arena/The Pit.
Kirtland Central head coach Devon Manning said his team was happy to get the win but they have their eyes on something bigger.
“It’s a good feeling you know,” he said. “But we didn’t come just to make the state finals, so we’re excited to be a fortunate team to be playing tomorrow night but we didn’t just come to play in a game but we’re exited to be there.”
Kirtland Central set the tone early with four 3-point baskets to take the 17-8 lead after one quarter.
They held Espanola Valley to 4 points in the second quarter, creating transitions off of their high-pressure defense and made a 10-2 run to close out the first half with the 27-12 lead.
Manning said he encouraged his team to continue working and play the type of basketball they know.
“The way Espanola plays they can get hot with all their 3s,” he said. “We just said keep the pressure on, we can’t let them get open looks, … keep what we were doing but do it better.”
The Lady Broncos continued to pressure and capitalize off their defense well into the third quarter.
They allowed Espanola Valley only 3 points in the third quarter, and led 41-15 after three quarters.
The Lady Sundevils battled back in the forth quarter but ran short of opportunities and time. Kirtland Central closed in for the 55-23 win
It is the first time Kirtland Central has played in the championship game in seven years. In 2012 they defeated Roswell 42-41 for the 4A state title; their 19th state title.
In other 4A action, Gallup fell just short of playing in the championship game. They were defeated by Los Lunas 70-47 in the semifinals.
In 5A, Piedra Vista also fell short of playing in the finals game. The Lady Panthers lost to district rivals West Mesa, 59-57, in overtime. It was the fourth time this season that the two teams met, and the only win in the series for West Mesa.