Not all rivalry games live up to the hype.
The District 1-4A tournament title game was definitely one that did.
Farmington found a way to scrape by Piedra Vista 68-65 in double overtime to add the district tournament championship to its regular season title on Saturday night in Scorpion Gymnasium.
“It’s amazing. I knew the game would be intense, but I never thought it would be that intense,” said FHS guard Matt Huffhines. “Feels good to get the win and become district champs. Our team has a lot of heart and we never give up. I’m proud of my guys.”
Huffhines, who scored a team-high 19 points, hit a pair of free throws with 19.1 seconds remaining in regulation that gave Farmington a 57-55 lead.
The Scorps appeared to have the game locked up with 10 seconds remaining following a PV turnover, but the Panthers regained possession after forcing a jump ball with 6.7 seconds to get a final chance in regulation.
Panthers’ forward Isaiah Valdez missed a layup, but grabbed his own rebound and drew a foul.
The PV junior hit both free throws to tie the game with just over four seconds left.
The Scorps had a chance in regulation to win, but Roken Cotie’s last second attempt wouldn’t fall.
Both teams struggled in the first overtime, scoring only two points each.
Scorps’ forward Frankie Gutierrez had a shot around the basket to win it at the buzzer, but couldn’t get it to fall as the first overtime expired.
FHS (15-12) gained the advantage in the second overtime thanks to baskets by Cotie and Damon Shorty but, with PV trailing by four and the clock winding down, the Panthers stole the ball and found a wide open Ty Jaquez on the right wing.
Jaquez buried the open 3-pointer to cut the Scorps’ lead to 66-65 with 4.5 seconds left.
PV fouled Josh Miller-Castillo with just over two seconds left, and the FHS senior calmly knocked down the two free throws to push the FHS lead to 68-65.
“I knew I had to make them,” Miller-Castillo said. “I’ve been through it many times.”
The Panthers (15-14) had one final chance to force triple overtime, but Jaquez’s desperation heave from half court crashed off the glass, crowning the Scorps district champs.
“We haven’t had a district championship in four years so everyone came out playing as hard as they could,” said Miller-Castillo, who scored 17 points in the win. “We really wanted to win that district tournament, and it feels really good to get the win.”
Jaquez gave credit to the Scorps for a hard-fought victory.
“We played good and made a run. We beat Aztec. We beat Kirtland,” said the PV senior. “We came here and nearly beat Farmington, but they deserve it.”
Jaquez scored a game-high 28 points on 9-of-15 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free-throw line in the PV loss.
Panthers’ head coach Adam Huff was proud of the way his senior stepped up throughout the game.
“He knew he had to step up,” Huff said. “He saw Jake (Armijo) go down and knew he had to step up. He’s played big all week. He and Jake both have. They’ve been our leaders. They’ve been our heart.”
Armijo was limited to 10 points in the loss after battling a pair of injuries in the game.
Early in the second half, Armijo injured his hip diving for a loose ball. The PV senior returned, but was sidelined again with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter after hitting his head while drawing a charging foul on FHS guard Kyle Reynolds. Armijo did not return from the second injury.
Reynolds scored 15 points off the bench for the Scorps before fouling out on the play.
FHS battled foul trouble in the front court most of the game with Gutierrez and Ethan Graff both sitting long stretches of the contest.
Fouls forced FHS head coach Paul Corley to go with a smaller lineup than he would have liked.
“We just went to a five-guard lineup,” Corley said. “We just tried to get to the basket, and they didn’t capitalize on the size difference. Our defense was tough. Anytime it went inside, our kids played tough and got the rebounds.”
Piedra Vista opened a small 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, but FHS responded in the second quarter to take a 24-20 lead into the halftime break.
The Panthers answered with 22 points in the third to regain a 42-40 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams struggled from 3-point range with the Scorps hitting 2-for-11, while PV made just 5-of-23.
The Scorps defense forced 17 Panthers’ turnovers while committing only 13.
After winning both the regular season and tournament titles and locking up an automatic state tournament bid, Corley thinks his squad has done enough to have earned a home game in the first round.
“I don’t know if we’ll get a home game but I’m hoping we do. We’re just happy to go to state. They’ve really overachieved,” Corley said. “We’re a resilient team, and we’re learning how to win close games. That’s going to be important in the first round.”
Huff doesn’t think the double overtime loss will hurt the Panthers’ chance at receiving one of the final at-large bids.
“We have the head-to-head win over Belen. We have to see what happens with Goddard, but we had a better record than Santa Fe and made it to our district title game and they didn’t,” he said. “Those are really the three teams that are the last 3 in so I really believe we should be a 14 seed.”
Both FHS and PV will find out their tournament fates when the 4A state tournament bracket is released today.
“We’ll just go play whoever we’re called on to play,” Huffhines said. “I think people underestimate us, and whoever we’re playing better be ready.”
Joshua Perry may be reached at email@example.com; 564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.