With a tournament title on the line, the Piedra Vista basketball team rode the hot hand of Jake Armijo to a victory.
Armijo hit 9-of-16 from 3-point range on his way to a game-high 29 points as the Panthers fought off a comeback attempt from Bloomfield to capture the Rumble in the Jungle tournament title with a 65-57 victory Saturday in Aztec.
“It felt good. It was definitely a confidence booster,” said Armijo of his hot shooting.
The PV senior entered the game hitting just 4-of-18 from 3-point range in the first two games of the tournament, but made five 3s in the first quarter to give the Panthers (9-8) a 21-7 lead.
Bobcats’ head coach Devon Manning gave all the credit to Armijo for beating his defensive gameplan.
“He’s just a really good shooter,” Manning said. “He wasn’t shooting right on the line, either. He was about four feet out. For the most part, our guys got out on him with a hand in his face but, when he’s feeling it like that, you just have to run out on him and make him dribble. One time in the first half we got him to dribble, he turned it over, but we didn’t do that the rest of the game.”
Bloomfield responded by outscoring PV 17-8 in the second quarter to cut the Panthers’ lead to five heading into halftime.
“We didn’t play hard, and they played really hard,” said PV head coach Adam Huff. “We kind of got complacent after that first quarter. They came out, played hard and got some confidence. When you give a team like that confidence, they just keep going.”
The Bobcats (4-7) continued their comeback in the second half, using a 9-0 run to take their first lead at 36-35 halfway through the third quarter.
The Panthers regained control in the last four minutes of the third to take a 42-40 lead into the final quarter.
Bloomfield took another one-point lead a minute into the fourth quarter when sophomore guard Ray Sanchez hit a 3-pointer to put the Bobcats up 43-42.
Ty Jaquez answered with a jump shot that sparked a 10-1 PV run to give the Panthers a 52-44 lead that they would never relinquish.
Jaquez added 10 of his 18 points points in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
“It’s important because it gets us above .500,” Jaquez said of the victory.
Huff credited the senior leaders for getting his team across the finish line.
“Ty and Jake had 18 of our 23 points in the fourth. That’s huge,” he said. “This was huge for Jake. Coming into the game, he’s been struggling on his 3s, hitting right around 30 percent. Hopefully that will get him going as we go forward, because if we can get him going along with the way Ty’s been playing, then we’re going to be tough to stop.”
Armijo earned the tournament’s MVP award, while Crockett made the all-tournament team for Bloomfield.
After a fast paced game the night before against Aztec, Manning was happy with the effort that his Bobcats showed to fight back in the contest Saturday.
“Our guys showed a lot of guts,” Manning said. “It could have been a long night. They could have folded, but they just believed in each other and fought hard. We had the lead a few times, but would make a silly turnover. But PV creates the turnovers, too, so it goes both ways.”
Sanchez led the Bobcats with 14 points. Michael Crockett and Dustin Dugger chipped in 12 points apiece, and Tyler Barker added 10 more in the Bloomfield loss.
PV will continue the season on Tuesday at home against Los Lunas.
“We’re starting to play,” Huff said. “We’ve won six of our last seven, and they’ve been some pretty quality wins. The biggest thing for me was that we win this weekend to get some momentum for Los Lunas on Tuesday and Gallup on Friday.”
The Bobcats will also be at home Tuesday as well against Farmington.
“Our guys have come a long way, but we can’t settle,” Manning said. “We have PV again in two weeks and hopefully we’ll be ready for them, but now our focus is Farmington on Tuesday night.”
Ignacio, Colo. 91, Aztec 79
The Tigers closed out their tournament with a second loss in two days as they fell to Ignacio, Colo., in the third-place game.
“I think we found out some stuff about ourselves,” said Aztec head coach Jody Christman. “That’s the point of these early season games — to figure out who you are and what you need to work on. We need to clean up our defensive rotations and need to get more guys attacking the offensive rebounds.”
Wyatt Schlueter hit five 3-pointers and led Aztec (6-7) with 20 points in the loss.
Conner Gaskins added 14 points, and Troy Choman scored 11 for the Tigers.
Justin Carver led Ignacio with 21 points in the victory.
Schlueter and Carver received all-tournament team honors for their teams.
Aztec will continue its season on Tuesday with a home game against Thoreau.
Shiprock 75, Bayfield, Colo. 48
The Chieftains ended their tournament with a second-straight win to emerge victorious in the consolation bracket.
After a tight first quarter, Shiprock outscored the Wolverines 20-9 in the second to take a 32-18 lead into halftime.
The Chieftains put the game away with a solid third quarter in which they scored 24 points to take a 56-32 lead into the fourth.
Justin Begay scored 24 points in the victory. Patdric Toehe added 18 more for Shiprock (13-4), and Hiram Gleason tacked on another 14 points.
Gleason was named to the all-tournament team for the Chieftains.
Shiprock will be in action again Tuesday as the team travels to Kirtland Central to face the rival Broncos.