FARMINGTON — Two local teams had positive results in the opening round of the 69th Annual Gallup Boys Basketball Invite.
The Farmington High Scorpions won their first game of the tournament 33-31 in overtime against Sandia Prep. The Kirtland Central Broncos also were victorious in a 80-74 game against Grants.
"It was absolutely a good day for us and Farmington and it was nice to see us both get wins," said Kirtland Central head coach John Zecca. "For us, starting the tournament with a win against a tough, scrappy team that shot the ball well was good."
Hot 3-point shooting helped Kirtland build a 39-28 halftime lead as the Broncos (9-3) hit five 3-point baskets in the first half.
The Broncos played a strong third quarter to extend their lead to 62-48, but turnovers helped Grants (8-5) make the game close down the stretch.
"The fourth quarter got a little sketchy. We shot the ball real well in the first half and the third quarter, but they turned up the pressure, and we turned it over too many times to make it close," Zecca said.
Christian Mackey led the Broncos with 19 points in the win. Reese Foutz and Joseph "Bud" Willie each scored 14.
Kirtland Central will face St. Pius X (6-5) in the semifinal round at 6 p.m. today.
"We got a good chance to see them before we played. They played well against Artesia, and they are always very well-coached," Zecca said of the Sartans. "We are going to have to go out and play solid man-to-man defense, match their intensity and fundamental soundness. We expect another tough game."
Farmington (5-8) and Sandia Prep (5-6) played in a slow-paced game where ball control was the focus. The Scorpions held a five- to six-point lead the majority of the second half, but poor free-throw shooting cost the Scorps a chance to put the game away in regulation.
"We were just 4-of-10 from the line. We missed opportunities to increase our lead," said FHS head coach Paul Corley.
The game was tied 29-29 going into overtime. A basket by Farmington's Max Pinon with 1.2 seconds left in overtime was the difference. Pinon finished with seven points.
"I am slowly getting more gray hair from these close games, but we are winning and that is exciting," Corley said.
Kyle Reynolds led Farmington with 12 points.
Farmington will play Pojoaque Valley in the second round of the tournament at 7:30 p.m. today. Pojoaque Valley beat the host Gallup in the first round on Thursday night.
"One of our goals coming in was to get through the first game and stay in the championship bracket and face Gallup or Pojoaque. The atmosphere of playing in a game like that will really help us down the road," Corley said.
Shiprock 62, Navajo Prep 51
Navajo Prep gave Shiprock a tough game on Thursday night.
The Shiprock Chieftains pulled away in the fourth quarter against the Navajo Prep Eagles to take a 62-51 victory, but it was the strong play of the Eagles that gained the attention of both coaches.
"It was a lot closer game than we thought it was going to be. Navajo Prep brought their A-game against us and did a an excellent job defensively," said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr.
Shiprock (11-4) held a 27-22 lead at halftime and a 40-35 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Chieftains finished strong to extend their lead.
"We had to focus on our defense. At halftime, we wanted to increase the tempo, so we pressed them more," Atcitty said.
Justin Begay led Shiprock with 21 points. Hiram Gleason scored 14 points, and Ryan Benally and Andre Joe each added 10 points in the victory.
"We still have room to improve offensively, but it was our defense being too soft that was the problem," Atcitty said. "We just need to tighten it up more. Credit to Navajo Prep for playing strong."
Eagles head coach Dustin Moore was pleased with his squad's effort.
"My guys have no quit in them, whether they are up 30 or down 30. They give it their all every game," Moore said. "I told them before the game that anything could happen if they believed in themselves. We beat Aztec this year, and we only lost to Piedra Vista by 10. We are right there with these teams in our area."
Mikaele Mauga led the Eagles (6-7) with 14 points. Isaiah Yazzie had another 13 points in the loss.
Moore believes playing in close games with local schools will help his team win when they begin District 1-2A play next Tuesday against Rehoboth.
"District is going to be tough. There are a lot of teams and shooters in our district. I think if we keep doing what we have been doing, we have a great shot of making some noise," Moore said.
Shiprock is back in action Saturday night at Taos, weather permitting.
Miyamura 44, Piedra Vista 32
The Piedra Vista Lady Panthers lost a road game to a 4A opponent on Thursday night.
Piedra Vista (7-6) got off to a slow start and couldn't limit the damage in a 44-32 loss to Miyamura (7-4) in Gallup.
"Defensively, we were lights out. It was only 3-2 or 4-3 in the first quarter. It was a baseball game score," said PV head coach Joe Reed. "We just couldn't throw the ball in the ocean tonight. Missed layups, free throws and turnovers killed us again."
Reed estimated half of the team's turnovers were unforced.
"We were back to throwing the ball out of bounds. The road has been tough to us because we have been such an up and down team," Reed said. "You never know what you are going to get. One day we look good, and the next night, against a team we should beat, we lose. We need consistency."
Precious Frank led Piedra Vista with 11 points in the loss.
PV is back in action this Saturday at home against Durango.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.