FARMINGTON — With the game hanging in the balance, the Piedra Vista boys basketball team put its trust in Troy Dixon.
Dixon didn't disappoint as the junior guard hit 10-of-12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter as the Panthers knocked off Farmington High 48-44 on Tuesday night at the Jerry A. Connor Fieldhouse.
"It's a great game to win," Dixon said. "It's good to be part of this great rivalry."
Dixon finished with a game-high 18 points, including 10 of PV's 14 fourth quarter points, while the rest of team struggled to hit free throws down the stretch, making just 1-of-8 at the line in the final quarter.
"I told (Dixon) before the game that I'd take him 10 out of 10 times over any guard in this district," PV head coach Adam Huff said. "I trusted him. I gave him the ball, and he made me look like a good coach."
FHS (10-12, 0-2 District 1-4A) trailed most of the game, but the Scorps were able to take the lead 40-38 with 2:30 left in the game after a 7-0 run.
"They played hard and coach (Paul) Corley gets them into their spots defensively," Huff said. "We've got to do a better job of matching that defensive intensity."
The Panthers (13-8, 2-0) turned up the defensive pressure on the Scorps as FHS was unable to get any good looks at the basket during the final two minutes.
"We just had a lack of focus," FHS head coach Paul Corley said. "Young kids reverting back to individual, selfish basketball."
FHS didn't take its first lead in the contest until six seconds were left in the third quarter following a pair of Alex Whiteley free throws. But Alonzo Araiza erased the Scorps' advantage with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give PV a 34-32 lead heading into the final quarter.
"That was huge," Dixon said. "It felt like it shut them down. We used that as momentum and fed off the fans."
Araiza hit 3-of-4 from three-point range in the win.
Max Piñon finished with 17 points for the Scorpions. Victor Lopez added 15 and Whiteley scored 11 before fouling out in the loss.
Isaiah Valdez chipped in 10 points, all in the first half, in the PV win.
Piedra Vista will be at Kirtland Central on Friday, while FHS will host Aztec.
The winner of PV and KCHS will take over first place after the first half of the district season.
"We're setting ourselves up against another 2-0 team in Kirtland," Huff said. "If we win that, we'll be control the second half of district. You always have to stop (Christian) Mackey. He has to be your focus, but you can't focus so much on him that everybody else gets going. You have to make their other guys uncomfortable. When they get comfortable, then they're dangerous."
Corley knows his team will need to come out with a better performance against the Tigers to avoid dropping into a 0-3 hole.
"We've got to come out and get a win. We're at the bottom now. There's only one way to go," he said.