Panthers coast past Aztec in district opener

Karl Schneider
Piedra Vista's Cody Harvey (10) blocks the shot of Aztec's Canyon Gomaric on Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista controlled all aspects of its game against Aztec, and the result was a lopsided 84-62 win for the Panthers in their District 1-5A opener on Tuesday night at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.

Both offenses started slow, and, after the first quarter, the Panthers held an 11-7 edge.

“We came out, and we had too much energy,” PV head coach Adam Huff said. “It was the first district game, and I told them we had to have good energy. We did, but we were a little too amped. Once we got a composed energy, that’s when things started falling.”

In the second quarter, PV (11-6, 1-0 District 1-5A) began dictating the pace of the game and took Aztec (1-15, 0-1) out of rhythm and created turnovers.

“They sped us up,” Aztec head coach Jeremy Archuleta said. “We wanted to slow the game down and play at our pace, but they did a good job of making us play fast, and that’s when we started turning the ball over with bad passes.”

Archuleta said part of the game plan, along with slowing things down, was to drive the lane and kick the ball out to open players on the perimeter for jump shots. He said he thought the Tigers did a good job executing that part of the game plan, but thinks the team needs someone who can finish at the rim when attacking and draw fouls for 3-point plays.

Behind senior Keegan Acosta's 16-point, first-half performance — capped by a corner 3-pointer at the buzzer — PV took a 39-24 lead into halftime.

“It was feeling pretty good,” Acosta said of his shooting. “Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot more confident in my shot, and my teammates are having more and more confidence in me. I’m just letting the game come to me and not worrying about anything.”

Piedra Vista's Keegan Acosta shoots a 3-pointer during a game against Aztec on Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

PV kept rolling in the third, and pushed its lead to 63-36 behind strong defensive play.

“The key word is solid. I told them before the game that they don’t have to do anything special, they just need to be solid,” Huff said of PV’s defense. “They got to their spots and were successful, and it opened things up.”

Acosta finished with 29 points after connecting on six 3-pointers.

Aztec’s Lindsey Larabee and Parker Daughetry scored 26 and 21 points, respectively.

Aztec's Lindsey Larabee (3) takes a shot over Piedra Vista's Jimmy Wood (44) on Tuesday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

On Friday, Aztec will play at Farmington (14-3, 1-0), and PV will play at Gallup (13-4).

“I think with having Gallup coming up next, this win was really big for us and keeping us on track for our goal of winning a district championship and going onto state,” Acosta said. “We need to stay confident in ourselves. I think if we can put together all four quarters, like I think we can, we should be able to get a win.”

Farmington 67, Miyamura 19

Farmington led just 13-7 after the first quarter, but clamped down on defense for the rest of the game and rolled to a 67-19 win over Miyamura on Tuesday night at Scorpion Gym.

“Our press worked well tonight,” Farmington head coach Paul Corley said. “Our half-court trap and half-court man defense was really good.”

Corley said the Scorps created multiple turnovers, which led to easy layups and allowed the team to run away with the game.

Farmington (14-3, 1-0) went 17 of 20 from the free-throw line and held the Patriots (6-10, 0-1) to 1 point in the third quarter.

David Riley led Farmington with 23 points, and Sol Rascon added 15.

Farmington will host Aztec (1-15, 0-1) Friday.

Navajo Prep 54, Tohatchi 52

Navajo Prep started play in District 1-3A with a big win, holding off Tohatchi 54-52 on Tuesday night in Tohatchi.

“We really tried to keep the tempo down a little bit,” Prep head coach Rick Hoerner said. “We missed two free throws and a layup at the end, but we held on. They tried to foul us at the end, but we were able to keep it away from them until the time ran out.”

The Eagles held a 5-point advantage at halftime, and every time they built a lead in the second half, Tohatchi responded and cut the deficit to a single possession.

Nachae Nez scored 15 for Prep, and Isaiah Chavez finished with 14 after going 9 of 10 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Prep will host Ramah tonight at 6:30 and then the team will play at Navajo Pine on Thursday.

“The schedule kind of hurts us because we have three games in a row, back-to-back-to-back,” Hoerner said. “But Tohatchi has won this district, I don’t know how many times, so to go there and get a win is big for our program.”

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