KIRTLAND — With opposing defenses swarming Christian Mackey, the Kirtland Central basketball team needs consistent contributions from the players around its star forward.
Reese Foutz filled that role to perfection on Friday night in the Broncos' District 1-4A opener.
Foutz scored a season-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting for KCHS in a 16-point victory against Farmington High 51-35.
"It's a real confidence boost to come out and get that win to start district," he said. "We need to continue to play that way the rest of the year."
The senior guard used his slashing style to repeatedly attack the Scorpions' defense as he finished layups on the fast break, hit mid-range jumpers and earned eight trips to the free-throw line.
KCHS head coach John Zecca said he hopes that game is a sign of things to come with Foutz for the remainder of the season.
"There have been a couple of games where he's gone back to not being as aggressive as he should be," Zecca said. "That's what we've been telling a lot of the players this year, not just Reese. Just get out there and be aggressive. Don't be afraid to drive to the basket and look for your scoring opportunities."
Foutz also hit 2-of-3 from 3-point range, an aspect of the game he has struggled with most of the season.
"If he gets going from the 3-point line, then that can be really scary for other teams," Zecca said. "He's been off on that, and it's really been his only down point this year. If he finds that at this point in the year, it's going to be really big for us."
The Broncos have been ranked in the top five by MaxPreps most of the season, and Zecca expects that his team will be in the mix for a top-four seed in the state tournament if they can win a district title. But to do that, Foutz and the rest of the role players will need play well for the rest of the year, he said.
"Those other guys have got to step up. There is really no time to let down and just pick your spots," he said. "They are starting to figure out the zone we play, and it can be really tough to score against. We're starting to find the outside shooting, too."
Foutz said the goal since the first day of practice has been for the Broncos to host a playoff game and get to The Pit, and he believes the team has put itself in a good position to accomplish that.
"It's what we've been dreaming of for a long time," he said of playing in the state tournament. "Coach always says that once you get down to eight teams, then anyone has a chance. We feel like we have the potential to go all the way. We just have to keep working."Joshua Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.