SHIPROCK — The Shiprock Lady Chieftains remained the lone unbeaten basketball team in San Juan County with a convincing win on Friday night.
The Lady Chiefs (7-0) defeated Piedra Vista 65-39 at home in the Chieftain Pit. Free-throw shooting played a big part in the game, and Shiprock took a clear advantage shooting 14-of-20 from the line, while the PV Lady Panthers (3-2) missed 17 attempts and shot about 50 percent from the foul line.
Shiprock successfully kept PV out of rhythm all night by mixing up defensive strategies.
"We threw all sorts of changes at them. We went press for a while and switched to some zone, and then back to man again," said Shiprock head coach Larenson Henderson. "We wanted to see what they would handle. We got them a little bit confused at times."
Shiprock also hit six 3-point baskets in the game.
Courtney Steele led the Lady Chiefs with 16 points. Shania Harry added 14, and Ashley John had another 12 points in the win.
Shiprock jumped out to a 15-5 lead after one quarter and led 31-19 at halftime.
"We started real slow," said PV head coach Joe Reed. "We had silly, mental mistakes we shouldn't have made. Our free-throw shooting shows we aren't mentally tough right now."
Kaleigh Graham led the Lady Panthers with 16 points in the loss. She was the lone Lady Panther in double figures.
PV made just nine shots from the field in the game.
"It was kind of hard because we were at the free-throw line most of the night, and we turned it over a lot," Reed said.
Henderson called it a good game and a good test for his starting five players.
"We played like we are supposed to. Our first five starters needed a game like this," Henderson said. "They played most of the time in this one, whereas in the past few games we kind of rotated girls in and out a lot. I thought our first girls needed a whole game, and PV gave us a good one."
Shiprock will host Kirtland Central Tuesday night. The Lady Chieftains already beat KCHS 66-48 in Kirtland on Dec. 3.
"We want to contain Kirtland a little better and make sure we keep them in front of us better this time," Henderson said of the matchup.
PV will play at home Monday night against Santa Fe, one of the top-ranked Class 4A teams that already beat PV 52-42 on Dec. 6 at the Santa Fe Indian School tournament.
"We are ready for Santa Fe. Hopefully, we won't have a big letdown after a big loss like this," Reed said. "It is not a question of playing hard. We did that. We just need to learn how to play hard and smart."
Laguna Acoma Tournament
Zuni 59, Bloomfield 48
The Bloomfield Lady Bobcats lost for the second consecutive day at the Laguna Acoma tournament.
Bloomfield (0-4) fell to Zuni 59-48 in the consolation bracket on Friday. On Thursday, the Lady Bobcats lost to Cuba 50-40.
"In the Cuba game, we lost, but the girls played well. It was a good game, and the effort was good," said Bloomfield head coach Tom Adair. "I really thought we would respond against Zuni, but we were flat in the beginning."
Both games were played at 8 a.m., but Adair wouldn't blame the early start time for the losses.
"Cuba and Zuni hadn't played at 8 a.m. either. It is tough, but it was hard for both teams," Adair said. "We are just going to keep working hard and get better."
Shaelyn White led Bloomfield with 23 points against Zuni.
Bloomfield will close out play in the tournament against Estancia at 8 a.m. today.
Ruidoso 44, Aztec 42
The Aztec Lady Tigers have dropped two straight in Artesia.
A day after losing to Bowie High of El Paso, Texas, 43-25, the Aztec Lady Tigers (1-4) fell to Ruidoso 44-42.
Aztec will complete play in the Artesia tournament today against Santa Teresa.
Navajo Prep 51, Aztec 49
The Navajo Prep Eagles picked up a big win against a local Class 4A school on Friday night.
The Eagles defeated Aztec High 51-49, but a controversial finish burned the Aztec Tigers, said head coach Tony Dinallo.
"We were shooting free throws with six seconds left, and we missed. There was a scrum for a rebound, and the clock never started. Navajo Prep got the rebound under the basket with a big guy, and he kind of waited around before making a pass. The clock still didn't start. A guy slowly brought the ball up to half court. The clock still didn't start. Finally, they get a shot from below the free-throw line, and they hit it, and then the clock starts running," Dinallo said. "It was one of those funny endings where the guy on the clock wouldn't start it until they scored."
Dinallo said there were only two referees calling the game, as opposed to the standard three-man crew.
"They wasn't enough officials, I guess. Nobody was watching the clock," Dinallo said. "It was like that all night. You hate to see that in this day and age, but that's high school basketball, I guess."
Isaiah Yazzie finished with a game-high 20 points for Navajo Prep. David Wauneka had 13, and Trevor Martin added 11 in the win.
"It was a great effort by everybody," said Navajo Prep head coach Dustin Moore. "Everyone did their part."
Eli King was the lone Aztec player in double-digits with 10 points.
Dinallo credited the Eagles for playing a good game.
"Both teams played their hearts out. At halftime, I told their coach their kids were playing very well," Dinallo said.
The loss dropped Aztec to 3-5 on the year. Aztec defeated Mancos, Colo., on Thursday 58-44.
Navajo Prep won't play again until Jan. 2 against Red Mesa, Ariz.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.