FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista girls basketball team looked in mid-season form Thursday night, dominating Navajo Prep 67-36 in the season opener at the Eagles Nest.
The Lady Panthers debuted their new full-court press, and it proved to be the difference. Using the press, PV jumped to a 17-3 lead in the first three minutes of the game and held a 29-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
“Defensively, we came out, and what we did in the first quarter was great. We came out intense, and the girls had their rotation down,” PV head coach Joe Reed said. “They worked hard, all summer long, and this is something we hadn’t done before, and they just worked hard. The intensity was there tonight.”
PV (1-0) kept the pressure up, trapping the Lady Eagles (0-1) everywhere on the court and forcing bad passes that led to easy layups, through the second quarter, and held a 43-14 lead at halftime.
Leading the Lady Panthers in the first half was senior guard Monique Russle, who scored nine of her 11 points in the first half while coming up with multiple steals.
“She’s a team captain and a senior. She put the time in this summer and worked her tail off,” Reed said of Russle. “You can’t get her out of the gym.”
Along with dominating the game with the press, PV controlled the game with a large rebounding margin and added to its lead with second-chance points after offensive rebounds.
When the Lady Panthers didn’t get layups off of turnovers out of the full-court press and on-ball pressure, they showed patience in their halfcourt set. Throughout the game, PV moved the ball around the perimeter and waited for either driving lanes to open or post players to seal their defender on the block for an easy bucket.
“When we press, we get easy turnovers and layups, but when it doesn’t go like that, we want to take out time and be patient with the ball,” Reed said. “We’re so young, with a bunch of sophomores and a freshman point guard, it was nice to see them so patient tonight.”
The biggest issue for Prep was a lack of time to prepare for the game.
“It was expected. We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty, but one thing I’m proud of is the girls kept trying. They never gave up,” Prep head coach Rainy Crisp said. “We have a young team, and it’s good that we had this as our first game because it gave them a chance just to go out and play basketball.”
Jasmine Coleman and Martinique Larvingo led the Lady Eagles with 11 points each.
PV’s Nykki Benally finished with a game-high 20 points, while Elli Wright added 13.
Prep will be off until Dec. 1, when the Lady Eagles travel to Bayfield, Colo.
PV will host Pojoaque Valley (1-0) on Saturday.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.