basketball

KC’s adjustment to new offense a slow, but steady, process

Kirtland Central's Tiajhae Nez knocks down a long jumper against Piedra Vista Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in ...more
Kirtland Central's Tiajhae Nez knocks down a long jumper against Piedra Vista Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.
Matt Hollinshead/The Daily Times
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Lady Broncos' scoring output becoming steadier

KIRTLAND — The Kirtland Central girls basketball team’s new offense has yet to yield the results coach Devon Manning desires, but the extreme ups and downs seen last year have not surfaced.

"We can't complain too much. We're trying to get good looks," Manning said. "Nothing clicks overnight when you're a new coach at a new program. But, the expectations are high at Kirtland, which they should be. It's going to take us some time."

Game-by-game point totals so far this year are 53, 57, 41, 53 and 49, respectively.

A typical pattern of last year’s point totals was 44, 50, 57, 27, 66, 44, 36, 26, 55 and 41 during district play. KC was more of a run-and-gun transition scoring team, but it rushed shots too often and committed multiple turnovers.

The Lady Broncos are taking smarter shots now, the very improvement Manning craves. Sometimes, that takes the form of a quick layup cutting through to the rim. Other times, it’s a point-blank pull-up jumper.

"We're starting to look for the good shots. This offense is really going to help us. We just need to trust it," shooting guard Tiajhae Nez said. "It's still taking time for us to adjust, but I'm pretty sure we'll eventually get it."

Those shots aren’t always going in on the first try, but the missed chances are happening less frequently now.

Players are still accustomed to playing fast, but they're now trying to balance that approach with getting into the offense and looking for that ideal shot.

"It's kind of hard to just go from playing quick for the past several years and just going straight into trying to slow it down," forward Siigrid Lii'bilnaghahi said. "I believe once we get the hang of it, then everything will just open up."

With multiple key players back from last year's state semifinals run, Kirtland (3-2) again has state championship aspirations.

And the Lady Broncos believe smart shot selection will pay off a few months down the road, especially in tough one-possession playoff battles.

"Every single time," Manning said. "Come state tournament time, it just becomes a natural movement."

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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