BLOOMFIELD — With a spot in the District 1-3A title game on the line, Bloomfield found a way to get past Wingate.

The Bobcats defeated the Bears 39-38 in the district semifinal to set up a meeting with Shiprock on Saturday for the district championship.

Wingate had a chance with just under three seconds left to pull off the victory, but Bloomfield survived a desperation three-point attempt at the buzzer by Bears' senior Rashaan Beyale that missed off the front of the rim.

The Bobcats (11-16) opened the game as cold as could be as nerves and a raucous Wingate crowd appeared to get the best of Bloomfield in the first quarter.

The Bears (15-13) took a 5-0 lead to end the first quarter in which the Bobcats shot 0-for-6 from the field and committed six turnovers.

"We were playing soft," said Bloomfield head coach Devon Manning. "I don't know if it was the atmosphere or the type of game it was, but we were a little soft at the beginning. We missed like four layups, so it wasn't like we didn't have the opportunities. We just didn't finish them."

The Bobcats responded in the second quarter with junior Ryan Johnson scoring nine of his game-high 16 points in the quarter to cut the Wingate lead to 15-14 entering halftime.

"Ryan played good, but it's not all about Ryan," Manning said. "We talked before the game — it's about we now. Everybody played pretty good tonight."

Bloomfield gained the advantage in the third and took a 30-26 lead into the final quarter thanks impart to a Ray Sanchez 3-pointer at the buzzer.


The Bobcats were able to keep the lead for most of the fourth quarter, but Wingate was able to cut the lead to 39-38 on a layup by Beyale with 20 seconds left.

Bloomfield missed the front end of two 1-and-1's giving Wingate a final chance to win the game, but Beyale's 3-pointer fell just short.

Kyle Jones scored 14 points for Wingate in the loss.

Bobcat turnovers kept the Bears in the game with Bloomfield turning it over 27 times to 15 for Wingate.

"It was all in our heads," Manning said of the turnovers. "We didn't make smart choices."

The Bobcats defense locked down the Wingate offense all game, holding the Bears to 16-for-54 from the field and 3-for-25 from the 3-point line while Bloomfield made 16-for-28 from the field.

The Bobcats will get a fifth crack at Shiprock this season, this time with the district tournament title on the line.

"Its great for the team and all the guys who have put in work this season to get to that district championship game," Johnson said.

The Chieftains have defeated Bloomfield in their four prior meetings this season by an average of 30 points-per-game.

Manning knows Shiprock will present a tough task for the Bobcats as they prepare for another matchup in the Chieftain Pit.

"I think they're tired of seeing us," he said. "But I think we played alright the last time. They're just solid. You have to play your perfect game to beat them. We're going to try."

The Bobcats' victory should be enough to clinch a spot in the 16-team state tournament, but Manning is waiting for the final bracket to come out on Sunday.

"I'm never going to say we're guaranteed anything until Sunday night when I see if we're on the bracket," he said. "I think we got a good chance, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch. I just want to get in and I've said all year we'll play whoever is on the other side of the court."

Joshua Perry may be reached at; 564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.