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District season tips off in a big way for Navajo Prep, Kirtland Central

FARMINGTON − With each high school basketball game taking on a little greater importance as district battles get underway, local and area teams are hoping to find the best stride with the postseason right around the corner.

Here's a look at action on the courts this week for local and area teams.

Girls basketball

KIRTLAND CENTRAL 82, Miyamura 36

The Kirtland Central High School girls basketball team rolled to an impressive 82-36 win at home Thursday night, beating Miyamura handily in the opening game of the District 1-4A campaign for both teams.

The Lady Broncos used a stifling full-court press defense to create multiple turnovers in the first half, which resulted in easy baskets as they broke out to a 28-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Jaylene Harris-Rhea and Keira Beall-Gleason combined to score 20 points in the first half as nine players reached the scorers book at the break, with Kirtland Central leading 56-15.

"I thought our energy was good," said Kirtland Central head coach Devon Manning. "(Harris-Rhea and Beall-Gleason) played really well along with the rest of the girls. Now it's on the next one."

The Lady Broncos, the top-ranked team in Class 4A in the state in the latest coaches poll, improve to 16-1 overall (1-0 District 1-4A) and have now won three straight. Miyamura falls to 3-13 (0-1 District).

Kirtland Central will be back in action on Saturday at 7 p.m. when it hosts Aztec. The Lady Broncos are 31-5 overall against the Lady Tigers, and have won each of the last 12 meetings dating back to 2018.

AZTEC 34, Shiprock 15

The Aztec High School girls basketball team outscored Shiprock 21-5 in the second half, overcoming a slow start on their way to a 34-15 triumph at home Thursday night in a district opening game for both teams.

The Lady Tigers went into the locker room leading 13-10 at halftime before getting into a better offensive rhythm in the third and fourth quarters of the game, snapping a two-game losing streak. The win gives the team a record of 6-11 on the season.

Shiprock falls to 4-13 overall and have lost six in a row. They'll try and bounce back on Saturday night when they visit Gallup. The Lady Chieftains have dropped each of the last 10 games against Gallup dating back to 2016, and have been outscored by an average margin of 70-38 in that time.

Aztec will be in action on Saturday when they travel to Kirtland Central.

GALLUP 83, Bloomfield 21

The Gallup High School girls basketball team made short work of Bloomfield in the District 1-4A opening game for both teams on Thursday night, as the Lady Bengals cruised to an 83-21 win at home.

Ranked second in the state in Class 4A by the latest coaches poll, Gallup improves to 14-3 on the season and have now won five straight games.

Bloomfield falls to 10-6 and will look bounce back on Saturday at 7 p.m. when it visits Miyamura.

Boys basketball

NAVAJO PREP 61, Wingate 19

The Navajo Prep boys basketball team improved to 3-0 in district play this season, rolling to a 61-19 win on the road Tuesday night over Wingate.

Orion King led all scorers with 22 points on the night, while also grabbing 11 rebounds. Jude Thomas scored 15 points in the win.

The Eagles got out to a fast start, on both sides of the floor, jumping out to a commanding 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Bears did manage to score 10 points in the second quarter, but went into the locker room trailing by a score of 33-10.

"It all starts with defense and to get a start like that, especially on the road helps us settle into the game," said Navajo Prep head coach Matt Melvin.

The victory is the fourth in a row for the Eagles, who improve their overall record on the season to 14-2. The Eagles are in search of their fourth straight District 1-3A title and have won 35 of their last 36 games against their district opponents dating back to the 2019-20 season.

Navajo Prep will be home on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to face Crownpoint. In a battle of teams with the nickname Eagles, Crownpoint has won two of their last three games against Navajo Prep, once during the regular season and again in district tournament action last year. Prior to that, Navajo Prep had won 11 in a row dating back to 2016.

"They're playing really well right now," Melvin said of the Crownpoint team. "We're excited for the challenge. These are the games you want to be in at this point of the season."

KIRTLAND CENTRAL 72, Miyamura 40

Satchel Hogue scored 19 points while Elijah Grey and Andres Melendez each scored 12 points to lead the Kirtland Central boys basketball team to an impressive 72-40 road win at Miyamura in the district opener for both teams.

The Broncos had four players score in double figures on the night, as Devin Ramone chimed in with 10 points as the team has now won four straight games.

The win improves Kirtland Central's record to 11-6 overall (1-0 District 1-4A). The team will be back in action Tuesday night at home to face Bloomfield. The originally scheduled Friday night home game against Aztec was pushed back due to inclement weather and will be played on Wednesday, Jan. 25.