FARMINGTON — The rivalry between Farmington High and Piedra Vista is always an emotional one, and Tuesday night was no different.
In a game that featured 28 fouls in the second half and a total of four technicals, it was the Scorpions who kept their poise down the stretch to emerge with a 64-54 victory at Scorpion Gym.
"It just came down to being able to handle their pressure," FHS head coach Paul Corley said. "You've got to give it to PV, though. They didn't quit and kept coming back, but our kids hung in there, played as a team and finished."
The Scorps put the game away at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, knocking in 12-of-18 attempts.
"The key was free throws," Corley said.
FHS shot 27-of-38 from the line in the victory.
Jared Tschetter was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line to lead FHS (13-12, 3-2 District 1-4A) with a team-high 20 points.
"We were just running our offense," Tschetter said. "We spread the floor and were attacking the basket."
Tschetter was one of four Scorps in double figures, with Alex Whiteley adding 15 points, Max Piñon finishing with 13 and Kyle Reynolds scoring 12.
"That's really key, because teams can't just focus on one person," Corley said of the balanced scoring.
Whiteley ran the Scorps' offense to perfection in the second half, finishing with nine assists as he repeatedly set up Tschetter and Piñon for easy layups.
"If I drive and I'm open, I'll go for the layup, but when they bite, I'll look to dump it off," Whiteley said.
The PV offense stalled out through large portions of the contest as the Panthers continually forced up early 3-pointers.
PV hit 18-of-51 from the field, including 5-of-26 from 3-point range in the loss.
"I think we were mentally weak and stopped playing our game," PV head coach Adam Huff said. "We said, 'Don't shoot ourselves out of this game.' We tried to in the first quarter, but our defense bailed us out. Mentally, we didn't do a good job."
Troy Dixon led the Panthers (14-10, 3-2) with 20 points, but struggled with his shot throughout the game, making just 6-of-21 from the field, including 3-of-12 from 3-point range.
Alonzo Araiza was the only other Panther in double figures with 10 points.
Neither team got off to a good start in the first quarter. PV took just more than four minutes to score its first points of the contest, but FHS was equally cold in the opening eight minutes as the Scorps could only muster a 7-5 lead.
The PV offense got clicking in the second quarter as the team hit 7-of-11 from the field and used a 10-0 run to open up a 22-21 lead at halftime.
Fouls marred the third quarter of play as the teams combined to shoot 23 free throws.
FHS pushed the lead to 11 before foul trouble forced Whiteley to sit out the final few minutes.
PV made a charge with the FHS point guard on the bench to tie the game at 40.
Whiteley returned late in the third quarter and sparked a 7-0 run to give the Scorps a 47-40 lead early in the fourth.
FHS maintained the lead for the rest of the game as PV was never able to get within four points.
On Friday, the Scorps close out the district season with Aztec while PV will travel to Kirtland Central.
A win by KCHS will wrap up the regular season district title for the Broncos, while an FHS victory coupled with a PV win creates a three-way tie at the top of the standings.
"I've got to keep them focused, but I really like where we're at," Corley said.Joshua Perry can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.