Scorps claim first Marv Sanders title since '03

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON – The Farmington boys basketball team won the Marv Sanders Invitational for the first time in a dozen years Saturday evening.

The Scorps jumped out to an early lead and held off a late charge from crosstown rival Piedra Vista to pick up a 61-54 victory.

In the opening minutes of the game, both sides showed nervous energy and combined for six turnovers in the first 2:30. But the Scorps (5-1) got under control first and opened a 19-4 lead after the first quarter.

“It was really crucial for us,” Farmington head coach Paul Corley said of his team’s start. “I told the kids we need to come out strong. We were playing a great team, and (PV) coach (Adam) Huff always does a great job with their kids. We knew we were going to have to come out and get the first punch. I think the kids responded well, and getting PV up against the wall early really helped us the whole game.”

Farmington's Clayton Corley scores a layup against Piedra Vista on Saturday during the Marv Sanders Invitational at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

Th jitters hung with the Panthers (4-2) for the first part of the second quarter, and Huff said his team’s nerves were a factor in the Panthers' slow start.

“It shouldn’t be too much of an issue because we do have some guys who are veterans and have played in a game like this, but we were probably a little jacked about the game,” Huff said.

Up 30-17 at halftime, Farmington maintained control of the game and led 45-33 going into the fourth quarter. But in the fourth quarter, PV implemented a half-court trap that took the Scorps out of rhythm and allowed the Panthers to chip away at the deficit.

“We knew PV was going to come at us — they always do,” Corley said. “They made a little adjustment with the half-court press, and it gave us some problems.”

That defensive change and Keegan Acosta sparked the Panthers’ comeback effort. Acosta came up with a steal near midcourt with a little less than three minutes left and found a lane to the basket. The 6-foot-2 senior threw down a two-handed dunk to ignite the Panthers and their crowd.

Piedra Vista's Keegan Acosta dunks the ball against Farmington on Saturday during the championship game of the Marv Sanders Invitational at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

Following the dunk, PV senior Jimmy Wood scored a quick 5 points to cut Farmington’s lead to 55-50 with 1:11 remaining in the game.

The Panthers began fouling the Scorps in an effort to gain extra possessions and complete the comeback, but Farmington connected on six of seven free throws down the stretch to secure the win.

“Our kids made free throws, and in close games, that’s crucial,” Corley said. “This season, we’re hitting at a 75 percent clip at the free throw line, and we’re going to be a tough team to beat if we can make free throws at the end games.”

The Scorps went 22 of 31 from the free throw line compared to 14 of 20 from the Panthers.

Farmington’s Barrett Bentley, Nick Granger and Clayton Corley were named to the all-tournament team.

Keegan Acosta led PV with 18 points and Jarrett Graham finished with 11 points, and both earned all-tourney honors, as well.

Farmington’s Tyren King led all scorers with 19 points and was named the tournament’s MVP.

“Tyren played a great game tonight, and that’s why he’s the MVP,” Corley said. “He’s such a humble and quiet kid, but he knows how to play the game of basketball, and he understands it. When he has the ball in his hands, good things are going to happen.”

Farmington will play at Durango, Colo., which finished fourth in the tournament, on Tuesday.

The Scorps and the Demons (3-3) met in the Marv Sanders semifinals on Friday with Farmington picking up a 47-44 win.

PV also will be back in action Tuesday, hosting Shiprock (2-2).

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.