The Panther senior knocked down the front end of a one-and-one with 1.2 seconds remaining to give the Panthers a 59-58 win over Shiprock in the first round of Farmington High’s Marv Sanders Invitational on Thursday night.
Baker missed the second attempt after a Shiprock timeout and time expired before either team could corral the loose ball.
Only one thought was going through the forward’s mind as he attempted the go-ahead shot from the charity stripe.
“Don’t miss it,” said Baker, who scored 14 points in the win. “I just took a deep breathe and thought about what I do in practice.”
Baker was fouled by Chieftain guard Kevin Aspaas in a scramble for a loose ball after Aspaas had his shot blocked in the right corner by Jackson Jones.
Chieftain head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. wasn’t happy with the final call, but couldn’t have been more proud his team’s ability to fight back in the game after trailing as many as 11 points in the game.
“It was a wild situation,” Atcitty said. “ But I thought the boys did a hell of a job getting back into it.”
Shiprock fought back to tie the game after entering the final quarter trailing the Panthers 45-37.
Chieftain junior Justin Begay made a layup to cut the PV lead to two points with 1:37 left, then Shiprock knotted the game with two free throws when the Panthers’ bench was hit with a technical foul for arguing an offensive foul call on Baker that negated a Ty Jaquez layup.
PV regained the lead with 44 seconds left on a basket by Isaiah Valdez, but the Cheiftains responded to tie the score at 58 on a jump shot by Hiram Gleason 10 seconds later.
The Panthers tried to hold for the final shot, but Ty Jaquez was called for an offensive foul with six seconds to play.
Shiprock went the length of the floor and set up the shot for Aspaas but he was unable to get off a clean look, and fouled Baker in the ensuing melee.
The Panthers will look to this win as a momentum builder, said head coach Adam Huff.
“We’ve had a lot of tight ones recently, and it was good to get over that hump and get a win,” Huff said. “I had faith in my guys. They’re picking things up every day and that’s a good win to get our confidence up.”
The game got off to a stagnate start with Shiprock taking a 8-7 lead after the first quarter.
The offense picked up in the second quarter with PV outscoring the Chieftains 21-18 to take a 28-26 lead into the locker room.
The Panthers came out of the halftime break and built an 11-point lead with a 13-4 run over the first four minutes of the third quarter.
Jaquez led PV with a game-high 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
The senior guard credited the ball movement on offense as the key to the team’s success.
“We were just trying to give it to the open guy,” Jaquez said. “All they really did was trap, and we just had to find the cutters going to the hoop.”
Jacob Armijo scored 10 points for the Panthers before leaving with ankle injury early in the fourth quarter.
Huff described Armijo’s injury as a low-ankle spain and said they’ll see how he feels after today’s shootaround.
The Chieftains had a balanced offensive attack with Begay, Gleason and Patdric Toehe leading the team with 11 points and Aspaas adding 10 more.
PV will play Montwood, Texas today after the Rams dispatched of San Juan, Utah 73-37. Shiprock plays San Juan in the consolation bracket.
Farmington 74, Red Mesa, Ariz. 32
Farmington opened with the first 14 points of the game and never looked back as the Scorpions defeated Red Mesa, Ariz., 74-32 Thursday night in the opening round of the Marv Sanders Invitational.
The Scorps (1-4) snapped a four-game losing sneak and head coach Paul Corley said it was important his team to finally get that first win out of the way.
“It really feels good to shake that monkey off our back,” Corley said. “We’ve had so many close, tight games. It was good for the kids to get out and have an enjoyable game and not one that goes down to the wire. I’m just happy for them. The kids were due for a win.”
Ethan Graff scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter, helping FHS open up a 22-4 lead in the first quarter.
“We moved the ball well,” Graff said. “We were patient because they were in a zone. We were swinging the ball and getting open looks.”
Matt Huffhines and Kyle Reynolds scored 15 points each for the Scorps.
“That balance on offense is something we strive for,” Corley said. “We want to get four guys in double-figures and if we can do that, then we think we’ll win a lot of games.”
Farmington will play Gallup in the semifinals after the Bengals defeated Fabens, Texas 67-64.
FHS lost its season-opener to Gallup 57-54 and Corley’s team is ready for another shot.
“Going into the tournament, we were hoping we’d get another shot at them,” he said. “The boys feel we let that one get away. That will be a great matchup, but we have to come with our A-game, because Gallup is tough and well coached.”