Eagles soar into second round in tournament; Scorps fall on the road

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Prep boys basketball team took a big step forward Saturday night in the state boys Class 3A basketball tournament, coming away with a hard-fought win at home over West Las Vegas.

Meantime, the hoops season came to an end for the Farmington High School boys basketball team, who were eliminated in the first round of the Class 5A tournament on the road by Hobbs.

Here's a recap of the prep basketball tournament action involving local teams.

Class 3A

NAVAJO PREP 56, West Las Vegas 46

Senior Dontrelle Denetso scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Navajo Prep boys basketball team to a 56-46 win at home over West Las Vegas in the opening round of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.

The win sets up the Eagles, seeded fifth in the tournament, for a road trip on Wednesday, when they will face fourth-seeded St. Michael's.

Denetso scored 21 points in the first half as the Eagles battled with the Dons, going into the locker room with a 30-27 advantage. Navajo Prep, defensively, struggled to gain control of the boards, allowing West Las Vegas to get several second chance shots, led by senior Roy Pacheco and sophomore P.J. Montano, who combined for 15 points in the first half.

Navajo Prep's Jude Thomas attempts to drive into the lane against West Las Vegas' Damian Gallegos during the second quarter of their Class 3A first round state tournament game, Saturday, March 5, 2022 at the Eagles Nest.

Navajo Prep outscored West Las Vegas 26-19 in the second half, led by Jude Thomas, who scored 14 points in the final two quarters to help keep the Dons from closing the gap.

"That's a really good team, and they came at us all night long," said Navajo Prep coach Matt Melvin. "They're physical and strong and did enough to put us in a position where we had to be in control the whole game."

The Dons, who came into the Class 3A tournament as the 12-seed, representing District 2-3A, battled for much of the second half while Navajo Prep was trying to overcome woes at the free throw line. The Eagles missed 10 free throws in the second half, which could have put the game out of reach much sooner.

"If I could tell you how much focus we'd put on free throws all week," Melvin quipped after the game. "It's definitely a hot topic, but we've got a couple of days before our next game and we'll go back to work."

St. Michael's, also representing District 2-5A, advanced to the second round after demolishing Tohatchi by a score of 76-33. This will be the first meeting of the season for St. Michael's and Navajo Prep. 

The Horsemen (14-14 overall) are led by senior Devin Flores, who scored 25 points in the second half in a win over Santa Fe Indian School during last month's district tournament.

The winner of the second round game will move on to the state Class 3A semifinals and will face either top-seeded Socorro or eighth-seeded Crownpoint. 

For more information on the Class 3A boys basketball tournament, check out the official bracket located at MaxPreps.

Class 5A

HOBBS 80, Farmington 66

Senior Jalen Goar scored 24 points to lead the fourth-seeded Hobbs Eagles to a convincing 80-66 win over Farmington at home Saturday night in the Class 5A state boys basketball tournament.

Hobbs, with a record of a record of 26-2 this season, extends their win streak to 12 as they prepare for a second round clash at home Wednesday against Atrisco Heritage Academy.

The Eagles got big scoring contributions from senior Jesus Ramos (19 points) as well as senior Aaron Mora (16 points) on their way to the win.

Hobbs broke the game open in the second half and at one point led by 27 points midway through the fourth quarter. Farmington had troubles on both sides of the floor, turning the ball over 17 times in the game while senior Cayden Yazzie was forced to the bench after picking up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter.

"The third quarter we just had a few too many turnovers and missed shots," said Scorpions coach Larry-Don Chitty. "Against a team of that caliber, they made us pay for each mistake." 

Yazzie, the team's leading scorer this season, left the game with only nine points on the night.

Cody Vassar-Steen finished up as the leading scorer for the Scorpions on the night with 17 points, while Trel Griego scored 15 points and Marcos Araiza finished with 10 points.

The loss puts an end to the season for Farmington. The Scorpions finished with a record of 20-9, including a 4-6 mark in District 2-5A competition.

"I'm really proud of our guys this season, especially our seniors. They put our program back on the map," Chitty said.

For more information on the Class 5A boys state tournament, check out the official bracket page on MaxPreps.

Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.