Fruita Monument learned the hard way not to leave Piedra Vista's Ty Jaquez open.
Jaquez hit 5-of-8 from 3-point range on his way to scoring a game-high 22 points as the Panthers survived a furious comeback attempt to pick up a 53-39 victory over Fruita in the opening round of Aztec's Rumble in the Jungle tournament on Thursday.
The Panther senior credited his teammates for creating open looks for him throughout the contest.
“Almost all of my shots were open,” Jaquez said. “My teammates just found me. Nothing was contested. We kept fighting and kept attacking and that's why we came out with the win.”
PV (7-8) appeared on their way to an easy victory, scoring the first eight points of the game and leading by as many as 17 points after opening up a 21-4 advantage halfway through the second quarter.
Defense was the key to building the early lead, Panther head coach Adam Huff said.
“We got stops, that's always the biggest thing,” Huff said.
Fruita fought back in the second half, cutting into the PV lead with a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and trimming the deficit to 24-17.
Fruita came within four points on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but was unable to complete the comeback as PV closed the game on a 10-0 run to lock up the victory.
PV's senior leaders were the reason the team pulled out the win, Huff said.
“Jake (Armijo) scored nine of his 11 in the fourth and Ty had a good third quarter to keep us ahead,” he said.
Armijo chipped in 11 points and made 4-of-5 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Spencer Fair led the Wildcats with 12 points.
The Panthers will face Ignacio, Colo., in the semifinals after Ignacio defeated Shiprock 56-47.
The Chieftains opened their game with on a 19-9 run, but Ignacio countered with a 17-3 run of its own over the final 6:30 of the first half to take a 26-22 lead into the halftime break.
Shiprock (11-4) never regained the lead in the second half.
Ignacio enjoyed a definitive advantage from the free-throw line, hitting 26-of-41, while the Chieftains made just 10-of-17.
The differential from the line left Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. infuriated following the loss.
“That was the worst officiated game I've ever seen. I tried to talk to them and be nice and they just wouldn't listen to me,” Atcitty said of the officials. “These guys have to learn to work together and communicate with the coaches. They don't want to learn; they don't want to communicate and they think they know it all.
“I'll give credit to Igancio. They deserved to win and were the better team, but it would have been a lot closer ball game. They're idiots and if they want to be gods, they shouldn't be on the basketball court. Let the kids determine the game.”
Hiram Gleason led Shiprock with a game-high 23 points, and Justin Begay added 14 for the Chieftains in the loss.
Clayton Jefferson topped Ignacio with 20 points.
Shiprock will continue in the consolation bracket today against Fruita.
Aztec 90, Bayfield, Colo. 79
The high-powered Tiger offense exploded for 51 second-half points in a opening-round victory over the Wolverines on Thursday.
“We're trying to play at a quicker pace,” said Aztec head coach Jody Christman. “It's pretty new to us, and we're making progress every game.”
The Tigers (5-5) took at 39-29 lead into the halftime break.
In the second half, Aztec pushed its advantage to as many as 20 points, but struggled to maintain the lead to Christman's liking.
“We got a comfortable lead, but I'm not really happy with the way we've been closing games,” he said.
Wyatt Schlueter led the Tigers with 28 points and Kyle Dodd tacked on another 18 in the victory.
Next up for Aztec is a semifinal matchup today against Bloomfield.
The two teams met Tuesday with the Tigers emerging with a 96-90 victory.
“At this point in the year, the focus is less on who you're playing and more about making adjustments within your team,” Christman said. “We just want to maintain our intensity for four quarters and not let leads slip away like in the last two games.”
Bloomfield 56, Shiprock JV 53
The Bobcats fought off a strong effort from the Chieftain junior varsity unit and advanced to the semifinal of the Rumble in the Jungle.
“I would have loved to win by more,” said Bloomfield head coach Devon Manning. “But we just needed to get the win. Our goal was to keep playing (in the winner's bracket) on Friday, and we accomplished that.”
Michael Crockett led Bloomfield with a game-high 30 points.
“We had to rely on him quite a bit,” Manning said. “The problem with that is when he realizes we are going through him, he starts trying to do too much. But our guys are starting to figure out what they can and can't do on the court.”
Bloomfield (3-6) will play Aztec in the semifinals.
“We're just ready to play whoever,” Manning said.