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Central Consolidated School District News Article

Kirtland Central Girls Basketball Team Wins Class 4A Championship

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - In a thrilling showdown at The Pit in Albuquerque on Friday night, the Kirtland Central girls basketball team emerged victorious, beating St. Pius 45-33 to claim the Class 4A title game. The Broncos, who have been the top seed in Class 4A for the third straight season, showed their mettle and won the championship for the second time in three years.

This title marks the 21st in program history, solidifying the Broncos as one of the top girls basketball programs in the country. They rank ninth overall for most championships in the sport. The Broncos' strong performance was led by eighth-grader Allyson Tsosie, who had a fantastic game, scoring 12 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Amber Shorty, Haylee Nocki, and Emilia Clani also made significant contributions, scoring nine, eight, and six points, respectively.

The Broncos got off to a slow start, missing their first five shots from the field, and turning the ball over three times in the first two and a half minutes of the game. St. Pius played an aggressively tight defense, and a couple of those turnovers were converted into baskets, allowing St. Pius to jump out to a 6-0 lead. However, the Broncos rallied quickly in the second period, scoring on their first four trips down the floor.

Shorty after hitting a 3-pointer, the Broncos grabbed a steal in the backcourt and drove to the lane to tie the game at 16-16. After a St. Pius timeout, Krista Tsingine-Yazzie then scored on back-to-back mid-range jumpers to give Kirtland Central a 20-19 lead with 4:20 remaining before halftime. It was a lead that the Broncos would never relinquish.

During halftime, the 1999 State Champions from Kirtland Central were recognized, making it even special for the basketball program.

The 1999 State Champions from Kirtland Central, who were recognized during halftime of the 4A State Title Game

The third period saw neither team do much on the scoring end, with the Broncos shooting 3-of-11 from the field while St. Pius was 2-of-11. Kirtland Central's key highlights were 3-pointers from Nocki and Emilia Clani, which gave the Broncos a five-point lead at 32-27 heading into the final period. Tsosie scored the Broncos' following four points, converting on a pair of free throw attempts, getting into the lane, and scoring as she leaned into a short jumper from 5 feet out, giving Kirtland Central a 36-29 lead.

St. Pius' shooting struggles continued in the fourth quarter, with the Spartans being 2-of-12 from the floor, putting up little resistance on defense late in the game, as Emilia Clani and Tsosie each scored to widen the margin. Nocki and Shorty added a pair of baskets off turnovers that allowed the Broncos bench to start the championship celebration.

The Broncos' coach, Kirtland Manning, was thrilled with the team's performance and said, "This one is special. This team bought into some changes that we made early on with this team. I knew really early on we had something special." Winning the championship this season and tying a school record with 29 wins was also significant for Manning, considering that the team won 29 games last season but came up one win short of the state title.

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