Farmington High staked its claim as the District 1-4A favorites Saturday night.
The Scorpions, with the help of some raucous fans, dominated Kirtland Central 61-38 at Bronco Arena.
"I love our fan support tonight. That sixth man was huge for our kids," said FHS head coach Paul Corley. "Our kids mentioned at halftime time they could hear the defense chant. These kids deserve it, and we really appreciate the fans coming out and supporting us."
The Broncos (8-13, 0-1 District 1-4A) got off to a hot start, opening the game with a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, but after that it was all FHS.
The Scorps (10-11, 1-0) started the second quarter on a 12-2 run to take a 19-16 lead.
FHS kept its lead for the remainder of the contest.
"We started out slow," Corley said. "So I told the kids that when our shots aren't falling, you have to pick it up on the defensive end. That's what got us going."
Matt Huffhines scored a game-high 25 points in the Scorps’ win.
"On offense, we really weren't hitting our shots, said Huffhines, who shot 11-for-21 from the field. "So we focused on defense and that turned into offense."
The Scorps forced the Broncos into 21 turnovers while committing just eight of their own.
"I think right now the kids are slowing down and are more sure with the ball," Corley said of his team's ability to limit its turnovers. "We're making good decisions. The little things are making a big difference.”
Christian Mackey recorded a double-double for Kirtland with 13 points and 12 rebounds, but the Scorps successfully kept the ball out of the Bronco star's hands for most of the game.
"We've got to figure it out — our guards especially," said Kirtland head coach John Zecca. "It's the same old story. We keep turning the ball over. We told them they have to look at the defense and if there are guys cheating up then they are waiting to tip that pass away. I think a lot of these kids are listening to the fans saying 'throw it to Mackey' — who knows. We just don't see things very well."
Ethan Graf went toe-to-toe with Mackey in the paint all game and scored 13 points of his own for the Scorps.
"Ethan did an amazing job," Huffhines said. "He's one of our main players, and it's good to see him step up in a big situation."
Neither team shot the ball well from 3-point range with the Broncos hitting just 2-for-20 and the Scorps making only 1-of-8.
The Broncos will look to regroup before their next district game against Aztec on Thursday.
"Last year, we lost our first district game at home and then didn't lose another game until the semifinals of state, so the season isn't over by no means," Zecca said.
The Scorps will host Piedra Vista on Tuesday at FHS.
Huffhines is looking forward to the battle against the Panthers and his friend, PV senior Ty Jaquez.
"It's going to be fun. Ty is one of my best friends, and it's going to be a great atmosphere. I'm ready for PV," Huffhines said.