Ty Jaquez of Piedra Vista and Aztec's Wyatt Schlueter both put on a show Saturday night, but it was Jaquez who earned the last laugh as he set a school record en rout to a victory.
The District 1-4A opener was wildly entertaining as the Aztec Tigers visited Piedra Vista. The Panthers led the majority of the way, and Jaquez put the game away by scoring 30 of his game-high 39 points in the second half to lead PV to a 94-78 victory.
In the process, Jaquez set a Piedra Vista single-game scoring record, passing the previous record of 38 points set by Isaiah Sanchez during the 2010-11 season.
"The guys kept notifying me how many points I had. I was like 'Don't tell me, don't tell me,'" Jaquez said. "It was a lot of fun. Our bench guys were pumped up, and they got us all pumped up. I don't really know what I did. I just kept driving in, and I was wide open, I guess."
The 39-point explosion was something PV head coach Adam Huff has been waiting for all season.
"I have been wanting him to do it all year," Huff said. "Jake Armijo didn't have his shot tonight. He realized early on he could be the facilitator, and he got the offense going. Ty was the finisher. He came in and wanted this game. He worked all week and proved it tonight. I think he is the best guard in the district."
Jaquez hit five 3-point shots in the game while shooting an outstanding 15-of-20 from the field.
PV (11-10, 1-0 District 1-4A) only committed 13 turnovers in the game while shooting at a very high percentage as a team. That was a recipe for success, Huff said.
“We put it away in the second half. We shot over 50 percent while taking a ton of shots. When you can make 50 percent of them, you are doing a great job,” Huff said. “In a fast-paced game, committing fewer than 15 turnovers is big.”
Aztec head coach Jody Christman said he believed the game was won and lost on the boards as PV hauled in several offensive rebounds.
“At the start of the game, we didn’t match PV’s intensity. That has been an issue we have faced a lot this year,” Christman said. “We dug out and got back into it, but they really hurt us on the offensive glass.”
Jaquez overshadowed the performances of two other players on the floor.
Schlueter scored 31 points while making six 3-point shots. He scored 18 of those points in the fourth quarter to keep Aztec (10-10, 0-1) in the game as other key players such as Jaime Lopez and Conner Gaskins fouled out.
“Schlueter gets any shot he wants. He is tough to guard,” Huff said. “You have to be able to play defense on him for four quarters on a nightly basis.”
Jaquez also overshadowed a career night from senior forward Bryson Martinez, who scored 17 points while fighting for rebounds inside the paint.
“I put Martinez in there in the fourth quarter thinking I was going to rest Satchel Baker and get him back in late in the fourth. The way Martinez played, I had to leave him in,” Huff said. “He is a football guy and this is all new to him, but he works hard on his moves every day in practice. He was a big boost for our team tonight.”
Martinez credited his teammates for his big night.
“It is a credit to guys like (Armijo and Troy Dixon). Armijo had some great no-look passes, and the whole team gave effort. None of my baskets came off the dribble, they came off great passes from teammates,” Martinez said. “We knew we had to be more physical than Aztec. We know they like to push under the basket, and they beat us in the second quarter. Other than that, we outworked them on the boards, and it showed in the final score.”
Both teams played with a high level of intensity as the district season began.
With teams so equally matched this year, both coaches know each win is crucial toward earning a spot in the state tournament.
“District is still a toss up. PV is off to a good start, and maybe them or Farmington can run the table, but I get the impression the winner of the district will have a loss or maybe two,” Christman said. “There will be a lot of games like this. Tonight’s final score wasn’t indicative of how close the game was, because it was competitive throughout. I am used to a bit bigger district, but typically the rule of thumb is you need to win all of your home games and split on the road. If you can do that, you will be in good position at the end of the year. If we defend home court, we will be in the situation we want to be.”
Aztec takes a break from district play with a trip to Wingate on Tuesday. After that, the Tigers face Kirtland Central on Thursday and Farmington on Saturday.
“It is a big week. With Kirtland losing, we will both be teams feeling the same way coming off a district loss. Even if you think two losses can win the district, you don’t want to start 0-2,” Christman said. “It will be a huge game.”
PV will have extra time to prepare for rival Farmington (1-0 District 1-4A), who beat the Panthers 67-61 earlier this season in non-district play.
“It is a big rivalry game. They got us the first time around and I didn’t think they should have. We will have a bit of revenge factor going in,” Huff said. “We want to come in to Farmington and show the district we are the team to beat.”
Martinez was confident in his team’s chances of picking up a big road win at FHS.
“I don’t think they can hang with us for four quarters if we play our basketball,” Martinez said.
For Jaquez, it will be another chance to go head-to-head with another one of the district’s best guards, Matt Huffhines.
“I don’t care about putting on a show. I just want to win that game,” Jaquez said.