FARMINGTON – The Shiprock boys basketball team’s defense kept Farmington off balance and out of rhythm through the first half and most of the third quarter.
But the Scorps finally broke through with senior guard Diego Corley catching fire from beyond the arc to propel Farmington to a 64-36 win over the Chieftains Tuesday night at Scorpion Gym.
With a little more than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Scorps found Corley alone in the corner for a 3-pointer that gave Farmington a 34-29 lead. Corley’s triple sparked a 12-2 run that sent his team to the fourth quarter with a 43-31 advantage.
“We went to a play we call Carolina where we pick the bottom man and use the skip pass to get it over to Diego,” Farmington head coach Paul Corley said. “He hit a couple 3-pointers there that got us going. We had to make some adjustments at halftime for how we were attacking their zone, and it seemed like we made some good adjustments.”
Farmington’s offense struggled to score against Shiprock’s zone defense until Diego Corley got going. With the outside shot falling, the Chieftains were forced to extend their zone, which opened up driving and passing lanes for either easy buckets or trips to the free-throw line for the Scorps.
Paul Corley also praised his team’s defense, which held Shiprock to 5 points in the fourth quarter, and just 16 points in the second half.
“There are some games where the offense isn’t working, and you have to defensively will yourself to win, and I think after halftime, the boys decided they were going to play great defense and smart offense, and it gave us that (scoring) gap,” Corley said.
Shiprock, which lead 20-17 after the first half by dictating the style of play, couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding after the Scorps closed the third quarter strongly.
“We still need to find ways to win in situations like that,” Shiprock head coach Chester Atcitty said. “It’s just a matter of finding a way to win and fighting through the adversity that they presented to us. That’s something we need to overcome.”
Atcitty said he was proud of the Chieftains’ defensive effort in the first half, and while he was disappointed his team couldn’t overcome the challenge Farmington presented it the third and fourth quarters, he’s OK with the loss, as it was a nondistrict game.
“We have a more important game on Thursday,” he said. “This one got away from us, and we need to put it behind us and work on what we need to tomorrow to get ready for Zuni.”
Zuni (7-10, 0-2 District 1-4A) will host Shiprock (8-9, 1-1) on Thursday.
Farmington will also be on the road later this week, travelling to Gallup to take on the Bengal (16-4, 2-0 District 1-5A) on Friday.
“We have a huge game down in Gallup, and this is one the kids have been looking forward to. They’re fired up about it,” Corley said. “We need to have two good days of practice, but we’re fired up to go to Gallup and see what happens.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.