FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista began the week under .500, but four wins has the team building momentum.
The Piedra Vista Panthers (9-6) won the Aztec Rumble in the Jungle boys' basketball tournament on Saturday after defeating Colorado's Bayfield High 61-47. PV defeated Colorado's Fruita Monument on Thursday and Bloomfield on Friday before the Bayfield win.
"Now at three games above .500, we are really right there with the rest of the teams in 4A," said PV head coach Adam Huff. "With Farmington and Kirtland Central being successful at the Gallup tournament, it will give us three strong teams that will make our district look more favorable."
Troy Dixon was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Isaiah Valdez was also named to the all-tournament team for PV.
Alonza Araiza led PV with 12 points in the win against Bayfield. Dixon added another 11 points.
Aztec (7-8) also went 3-0 in the tournament, but the championship was awarded to PV because the Tigers played their own junior varsity team in the first round.
The Tigers finished the tournament with a 45-38 win against Bloomfield. The win gave Aztec a 2-1 advantage in the season series against the Bobcats.
Nick Weaver led Aztec with 12 points in Saturday's win. Troy Choman finished with 11 points. Choman was also named to the all-tournament team.
Aztec assistant coach Carl Downing said the team's defense improved over the course of the tournament, but the team is still searching to find a rhythm offensively.
"We're hoping to build our offense. We're trying to find our groove," Downing said.
Bloomfield head coach Devon Manning said his Bobcats (3-9) couldn't quite do enough to get past Aztec on Saturday after beating the Tigers on Tuesday. Bloomfield went 0-3 in the tournament.
"I thought we got better even though we lost. I think the team is starting to gel a bit, but our weaknesses have been exposed in rebounding and holding onto the ball in critical situations," Manning said.
Bloomfield has yet to play a game with its full roster. One starter has been out with an injury, and Ryan Johnson has been sidelined all season with a broken leg he sustained during football season.
"I want to say we could get Johnson released this week. We haven't had a full bunch yet, so we are doing the best we can," Manning said.
Tyler Barker was named to the all-tournament team for the Bobcats.
In Saturday's early game, Fruita Monument defeated Shiprock Northwest 75-16.
Shiprock Northwest's Terrian Willie made the all-tournament team. Bayfield's Preston Hardy was also named to the all-tournament team, as was Fruita's Matt Story.
Farmington 2nd in Gallup, Kirtland Central takes 3rd
The Farmington Scorpions made a strong showing in the 69th Annual Gallup Boys Basketball Invite.
Entering the tournament as the lowest-ranked team in the field according to MaxPreps.com, the Scorpions reached the title game, where they faced Class 4A No. 4 St. Pius X.
FHS (6-9) fought hard in the tournament final, but the Sartans (7-4) held them off to win 39-37. All three of Farmington's games in the tournament were separated by five points or less.
"It was a real positive weekend. Our defense just got really better," said FHS head coach Paul Corley. "It was just an amazing job."
Farmington trailed 38-37 with just under 80 seconds left in the game. St. Pius tacked one on free-throw in the final second to make it 39-37.
"They had the ball with a minute and turned it over. We got the ball back with 25 seconds, ran it down to about five seconds and then called timeout. We ran a play under the basket and just turned it over," Corley said.
Kyle Reynolds, Alex Whitely and Jared Tschetter all scored 10 points in the game for the Scorps.
"If we can get three guys in double figures, we are going to do pretty well," Corley said.
Reynolds and Whitely made the all-tournament team for FHS.
Farmington will play Bloomfield on Tuesday and get a rematch with the Sartans at home next Saturday.
Kirtland Central (10-4) finished third in the tournament after a 54-52 victory against Pojoaque Valley. The Broncos' lone loss in the tournament came to St. Pius X on Friday night.
"We didn't play well, but we came out with a win," said KCHS head coach John Zecca. "I was hoping the St. Pius loss would have our guys more fired up and they would have a chip on their shoulder, but we didn't. We came out flat and didn't play with the effort we needed. It almost cost us, and we were lucky to win."
Pojoaque took a small lead on the Broncos in the fourth quarter, but the Broncos were able to break the press of the Elks and get a few easy layups to regain the lead for good.
Joseph "Bud" Willie led the Broncos with 17 points, and Christian Mackey scored another 14 points. Mackey was named to the all-tournament team, as was sophomore Bernel Miller.
"I was really glad the coaches at the tournament recognized Miller. He doesn't do anything flashy, but he really plays in control and doesn't turn the ball over. He hit a few big 3s, too," Zecca said.
Zecca said he would have been satisfied with a 2-1 weekend in Gallup, but his team's play left him with more questions than answers.
"We definitely aren't as happy as we should be, but I guess we will take it," Zecca said.
Kirtland Central hits the road on Tuesday to face non-district rival Shiprock (11-5).
"That is always a big game no matter what the two teams' records are. It is emotional. The crowd will be big to support both teams, but I think our kids have enough experience in that gym to know what to expect," Zecca said. "It will be a fun game."
Shiprock falls 59-57 at Taos
The Chieftains fell in a Class 3A top-five matchup on Saturday.
Shiprock lost to Taos 59-57 on the road.
"It was a great ball game. Our boys hung in and did an excellent job," said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. "We had a good look at tying the game, but a Taos kid got a finger on the shot we got up and it didn't go. It was a great ball game, though, and you can't ask for a better environment."
The Chieftains (11-5) were led by Justin Begay's 25 points. Deron Johnson scored 12 more points, and Darryle Nelson Jr. finished with 11 points.
Taos is now 12-2 this season.
"This game is what we needed. Some of the guys are not playing their best. That is OK, because we want them to peak in late February and March," Atcitty said. "Right now, we just want to play hard and try to win as many as we can."
Atcitty said Taos focused heavily on taking Shiprock senior guard Hiram Gleason out of the game.
"They were all over him," Atcitty said.
Shiprock is back in action at home on Tuesday in a non-district rivalry game against Kirtland Central.
"That will be a good experience. It will come down to how we play defense. We want to take care of business in our home games," Atcitty said.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.