SHIPROCK — Farmington High accomplished what its fellow District 1-4A rivals couldn’t this season — win in the Chieftain Pit.
Matt Huffhines scored a game-high 22 points as the Scorpions knocked off 3A No. 4 Shiprock 57-48 on Tuesday night.
The Chieftains had previously defeated Aztec, Piedra Vista and Kirtland Central at home this season, but had no such luck against FHS.
“We played great today,” said Huffhines, who went 8-for-13 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range. “Being in all those close games really paid off tonight. We were able to hang on to the lead, and it felt really good to get this win. Shiprock’s one of the best 3A teams, but we’re gelling at the right time.”
Frankie Gutierrez chipped in eight of his 17 points for the Scorpions in the fourth quarter to help seal the FHS victory.
“I knew I had to step it up,” Gutierrez said. “This was a big game for us. I owe it a lot to the point guards, because I couldn’t have done it with out them. I feel this will increase our momentum quite a bit going into Kirtland on Saturday.”
With Huffhines and Josh Miller-Castillo handling most of the scoring load for the Scorps, Gutierrez hasn’t been called upon often to fill that role, but head coach Paul Corley is confident in his senior forward’s ability to finish around the basket.
“Frankie is just getting better and better,” Corley said. “He didn’t play last year, but he’s getting in the groove. The guys have faith in him to make those baskets. I give Frankie a lot of credit, not just points-wise, but he helps out rebounding and defensively, too.”
Huffhines welcomed the scoring help from his teammate.
“Frankie played amazing tonight,” Huffhines said. “He scored for us and got some big rebounds. He’s a big player for us.”
The game was close throughtout, but FHS (9-11) maintained the lead during most of the contest.
Shiprock (15-5) took a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Scorps responded with a 14-6 run to close out the second quarter to take a 29-24 lead into the break.
The Chieftains briefly took the lead 38-37 following a 6-0 run with a 1:04 left in the third quarter, but FHS answered with the next eight points and never relinquished the advantage.
Justin Begay led Shiprock with 14 points, but was held scoreless in the fourth quarter by the Scorps’ defense.
“I have to give it to Farmington tonight,” said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. “They got back and set up their half-court defense.”
Miller-Castillo added 10 points in the win for FHS.
Patdric Toehe scored 11 points and Kevin Aspaas notched 10 more for the Chieftains in the loss.
Each team struggled at the free-throw line, hitting just 10-for-20.
Both teams will open the district schedule on the road Saturday with Shiprock traveling to Thoreau and the Scorps opening against Kirtland Central.
“If we play like we’ve been playing, then I like our chances,” Corley said. “We have to keep working hard — playing good defense and solid offense. Hopefully, we can get another good win, but Kirtland is a tough place to play.”