Boys 5A state basketball: Farmington suffers heartbreak with Gallup's buzzer beater

Karl Schneider The Daily Times
The Daily Times

ALBUQUERQUE — With 5.8 seconds left in Wednesday's 5A state quarterfinal game and the score tied at 59, Gallup's Colton Lowley had the ball at the free throw line. The 6-foot-2 junior took a hard dribble to his right, attacking the lane, and was met by Farmington's Clayton Corley and David Riley.

A pump fake got Corley in the air, and as Lowley stepped through, he floated his shot over the outstretched hand of Riley.

"I saw a lane on my right side, so I drove it in," said Lowley, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. "I saw two (Farmington players) so I got a quick pump fake and just let it go."

The shot found the back of the rim and dropped in as the final horn sounded, lifting the No. 2 Bengals past the No. 7 Scorpions 61-59 and putting Lowley on the bottom of a Gallup dogpile at midcourt of The Pit.

"Farmington kicked our butt for three quarters, and I think we played one great quarter," Gallup head coach Domonic Romero said. "Their game plan was great. They attacked us. They were quicker than us. But when you have a fight to not give up, it's tough to stop us."

Farmington beat up Gallup for the first 24 minutes, winning each of the first three quarters, but even a 21-point deficit with a little more than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter wasn't enough to stop the Bengals and quiet the couple of thousand fans who made the trip from Gallup.

"The fans kept me going," said the Bengals' Sean Eskeets, who led the fourth-quarter comeback. "They got me going, and I got my team going. After that, the crowd kept getting more and more into it, and all that energy got a lot of adrenaline in the body going."

The Gallup pressure turned the Scorps over 22 times, while the Bengals only committed eight turnovers.

Gallup forced 13 Scorpion turnovers in the second half, and hit four 3s in the final quarter to complete the comeback.

"I probably should have pulled us out of the zone a lot sooner," FHS head coach Paul Corley said. "That kind of hurt us, and I take blame for what happened at the end. I should have done a better job of coaching. That's what it comes down to."

Senior Alex Whiteley finished with a game-high 18 points, despite dealing with foul trouble throughout the game.

The buzzer-beating loss in Farmington's first trip to the quarterfinals in eight years is sure to leave a bad taste in the mouths of the team's seniors, but Whiteley said he's ending his FHS basketball career on good terms.

"I just want to look back and not have any regrets," he said. "I made it a goal to get here, and we did it. Now (the team) will want to come back, and they'll want to play here every year. They'll strive toward that, and it was my goal to be able to help them to that."

Karl Schneider covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 and kschneider@daily-times.com. Follow him @karltschneider on Twitter.