Kirtland Central edges Gallup for district’s bragging rights
Perhaps it was the 55-42 loss they were handed on Feb. 15, or perhaps the team wanted to gift their coach with a win on his birthday.
Either way the Kirtland Central Lady Broncos earned the district’s top seed with a 55-53 win over the Gallup Lady Bengals.
The game was held at a neutral site at Newcomb High School.
The Lady Broncos got on the scoreboard first with a two-pointer by Hailey Jackson.
Defensively, KC stymied the Lady Bengals throughout the game by coming away with key steals.
Kirtland Central’s Emilia Clani, Jaylene Harris-Rhea, Aaryanna Lansing never let up as they either stole the ball or forced Gallup to throw away the ball.
While the defensive pressure paid some dividends for the Broncos, but KC was also hurt by fouls with Lansing having to sit out with three fouls by the second quarter.
With Lansing on the bench, the Lady Bengals regrouped in the second quarter and began chipping away at Kirtland Central’s lead. The stingy defensive game opened up an opportunity for Gallup at the free throw line, as Delin Tello, Rylie Whitehair, and Yanibah Begay all added 6 points to the team’s score.
Gallup got within a point, 18-17, when Kirtland Central called for a timeout with 4:52 left in the second quarter.
Lansing was put back into the game. Once again, she stole the ball and passed the ball to Sydney Smith, who missed. Lansing retrieved the rebound and added a putback.
The Bengals got the ball back and Lansing again disrupted Gallup’s plans and drove the ball to the rim where she was fouled by Yanibah Begay.
The KC senior connected on both free throws as she finished with six points at the half with the Broncos up 29-26.
Lansing said her team never quit playing, as KC leads the season series at 2-1.
“We played our hearts out,” she said.
The Broncos seemed to cool down in the third as they missed some easy two-point shots. Gallup took advantage of that as they regained the lead at 31-29.
After that brief Gallup run, Lansing came up a pair of steals that resulted in points for KC.
The Bengals, however, leaned on Kiera Livingston as she put in 11 points in the third stanza with Gallup outscoring the Broncos 19 to 8.
That scoring run put the Bengals in control with a 45-37 advantage going into the fourth.
The KC girls regrouped and despite having Lansing sit with her fourth foul, Gallup did not take advantage.
Harris-Rhea, who gave Gallup a headache all night, hit a pair of treys and a two-point basket that cut into the Bengals lead.
With the its leading thinning, Gallup called a timeout with 1:14 left.
The timeout did not phase the Lady Broncos’ defensive game as Lansing squashed Gallup’s chances. She scored four straight points tying the contest at 53-all with 36 seconds left in the game.
Lansing made the game-winning back with 5.1 seconds left off a steal.
Gallup called a timeout, setting a play of Raven Tso, who shot from the 3-point line and missed.
After the game, Manning felt that his club did not apply enough pressure against Gallup during the Feb. 15 meeting.
“I thought our press was really good when we were doing it,” he said. “It gave them (Gallup) a little bit of trouble.”
Gallup coach Todd McBroom said his team started the game unprepared.
“I felt they (Kirtland Central) executed the ball better in the first quarter, and we executed the ball in the second quarter,” he said after the game.
The two teams could meet for a fourth time on Saturday, but they need to get by their opponents today.
Gallup will host Bloomfield and KC is entertaining Miyamura with both games starting at 6 p.m.
Lansing is hoping that her team starts strong when they play the Patriots.
“We just gotta start off strong again and play together as a team,” she said.