Every time Gallup would jump out to a decent lead, the Farmington Scorpions would close with a big scoring run.
It wasn't quite enough late in Friday night's game, though, as the Scorps lost to the Bengals 57-54 in the season opener for Farmington High.
“It was a loss, but it was a positive step forward for us with the kids tonight,” said Farmington first-year head coach Paul Corley. “Gallup is a quality team every year, and we played right with them tonight.”
Turnovers were costly for the Scorpions, as was free-throw shooting.
The Scorps trailed the Bengals just 24-23 at half time despite shooting just 1-9 at the charity stripe in the first half.
“We could've been up double digits at half. We finished the game 10-19 at the line, but little things here and there didn't work out for us in the game. We will work those kinks out.,” Corley said.
Matt Huffhines and Josh Miller-Castillo each scored 13 points for the Scorps while Ethan Graff scored 12 more.
“We talked about having three or four guys in double digits and, when we do that, we will have a good chance to win a lot of games,” Corley said.
Nine of Farmington's 11 players scored Friday night, and Corley was please with the way Miller stepped up to hit long range 3-point baskets, as well as Kyle Reynolds, who hit a big 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter when the Scorps closed out on a 9-0 run to trail just 38-36 going to the final eight minutes of play.
The Scorps tied the game at 44 after Gallup went up 44-38, and the Bengals led by just one with 1:25 to play, but free-throw shooting helped Gallup win the game late.
“Our defense got us back in the game every time with some steals. We can learn a lot from this game, and I told the guys we are going to have a chance to win a lot of these close games when we learn how to execute in the end. We need to hit big baskets and get those stops late,” Corley said.
San Juan 83, Piedra Vista 62
Piedra Vista went toe-to-toe with San Juan High (Blanding, Utah) in the first half Friday night, but a 23-point third quarter for the Broncos put the Panthers away.
San Juan beat PV 83-62 as two Broncos scored 25 points.
“They had one kid who went hard to the hoop and another really good shooter,” said PV first year head coach Adam Huff. “They shot lights out, but in that third quarter they only made one 3-pointer. Of those 23 points, most came off of offensive put backs.”
Ty Jaquez led PV with 18 points in the game
With several players still in just their first week of basketball workouts, Huff hopes the team can learn from the loss and use it as motivation going forward.
“We have a lot of things to learn,” he said.
Navajo Prep 65, Kirtland Central JV 63
The Navajo Prep boys basketball team defeated Kirtland Central's junior varisty 65-63 to advance to the title game of the Eagles' Classic Boys' Basketball Tournament.
Mika Mauga led the Eagles with 27 points.
Navajo Prep will play Monument Valley today in the final of the Eagles' Classic.
Santa Fe Indian School 59, Kirtland Central 17
Kirtland Central head coach Kevin Holman said Santa Fe Indian School may be the best girls' basketball team in the state in any classification Thursday night. On Friday, the Lady Braves proved him right.
In the semifinals of the Santa Fe Indian tournament, the Lady Braves held the Lady Broncos to zero first quarter points and just two in the entire first half. Santa Fe Indian led 32-2 at the break.
“First of all, Santa Fe Indian is just a good team. They physically man-handled us with their defense,” Holman said. “I guess I will take the blame for not coming up with the best offensive game plan. What we came up with in the morning didn't work. They pressed us, and we struggled to make shots. They are a better team and that is the level we hope to be at late in the year.”
Kirtland Central will have a chance to for a bit of redemption in January when the Lady Braves visit Kirtland Central.
“I told the girls at halftime we had no chance to win, but it was a chance to show some character,” Holman said. “We could've gone out and lost 70-2, but we came out and tried to score some points. We showed a little fire, but we also showed we have a long way to go while taking a step backward.”
The Lady Broncos will face Hot Springs tomorrow at 5 p.m. in the third-place game of the tournament. Santa Fe Indian will play Espanola for the tournament title.
Also in the tournament was Piedra Vista, which defeated Santa Fe Indian's junior varsity team 43-26.
Kaleigh Graham led the Lady Panthers with 11 points. PV plays Grants, who beat Navajo Prep on Friday, today in the consolation bracket final.
Gallup 83, Farmington 31
A young Farmington girls' team ran into an experienced Gallup squad Friday night.
The Lady Scorps fell on the road 83-31 to the Lady Bengals.
Shayna Carlo led Farmington with 11 points and Marisa Kakos scored another 10.
“I am very proud of our girls. We started three freshman and most of our girls were playing their first varsity games,” said FHS head coach Mike Switch. “The girls never gave up and they fought. They are only going to get better.”
Switch said he hopes the experience of playing in a hostile environment early in the season will help the girls grow.