PV shuts down Aztec in second half, wins 60-37

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista girls basketball team avenged one of its district loses with a dominant second-half performance.

Behind a stellar defense and full-court press, the Lady Panthers outscored Aztec 34-10 in the second half and rolled to a 60-37 victory Saturday night at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.

“Our goal is to wear people down,” PV head coach Joe Reed said. “The press isn’t going to work all the time, but we’ve got to stick with it to try to wear them down in the end, and I believe we did a great job of that tonight.”

The two teams battled back and forth throughout the first half, with neither side getting much of an advantage.

The game remained close through the first half of the third quarter, and at the four minute mark, Aztec (17-6, 3-2 District 1-5A) led 33-32. But 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions from the Lady Panthers (15-6, 3-2) opened up the first significant lead of the game. Behind the flurry of triples, PV finished the third quarter on a 12-2 run to take a 44-35 lead into the fourth.

The offensive surge at the end of the third quarter helped spark PV’s full-court press, which flustered the Lady Tigers and took them out of the game mentally.

“We’re still a young team trying to get used to playing in situations like that,” Aztec head coach Robert McCaskill said of the Lady Tigers, who scored just 2 points in the fourth quarter. “It’s tough coming from nowhere to somewhere that fast. We were 5-18 two years ago, and now we’re near the top of the standings in 5A. There are some growing pains that we have to go through.”

The Lady Panthers also got an offensive boost from an unusual suspect in Autumn Begay, who led all scorers with 18 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.

Piedra Vista's Autumn Begay grabs an offensive rebound and goes back up for a shot while being defended by Aztec's Reigan Weaver during Saturday's game at the Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.

“She was a freaking beast,” Reed said of Begay. “They (the Lady Tigers) had to start worrying about her inside, and that opened things up on the outside. It has been a long time since I’ve seen someone go to work like that. She played phenomenal tonight.”

Begay — a 5-foot-10 senior who didn’t play basketball her sophomore or junior years — is usually asked to use her size and athleticism to impact the game with her post defense and rebounding. But after she re-established her basketball skills set during the last couple of months, the Lady Panthers began running their offense through the senior.

“When we have that height advantage, we’re going to try to feed her the ball,” Reed said. “She took two years off and had to get back into the flow of basketball. Her last four or five games have been phenomenal, and she just keeps getting better.”

PV’s Monique Russell made four 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. Elli Wright and Nykki Benally added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Reigan Weaver, Myra McCaskill and Elana Kresl finished with 8 points each to pace the Lady Tigers.

Aztec's Elana Kresl takes a shot during a game on Saturday, Feb. 6, against Piedra Vista at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

The win brings PV and Aztec level in the district standing behind unbeaten Gallup, but the Lady Panthers hold the tiebreaker on point differential.

“We wanted to beat them by more than 8, just in case we end up with a tied record, but we can’t rely on that. We have to go out and win games,” Reed said.

PV will play at Gallup (21-0, 4-0) on Thursday. Gallup beat PV 77-72 on Jan. 23 in Farmington.

Aztec will also be in action Thursday, travelling back to Farmington to face the Lady Scorps (9-10, 2-3). Aztec beat Farmington 58-43 on Jan. 23 in Aztec.

Farmington 66, Miyamura 46

After suffering three straight losses, Farmington got back on track with a 66-46 win over Miyamura Saturday night in Gallup.

Behind a man-to-man defense, and a little bit of full-court press, the Lady Scorps (9-10, 2-3) forced Miyamura (8-14, 0-5) to hurry and held a 41-17 halftime lead.

“The first half, we really dominated. We passed the ball and shared the ball well. It was a wonderful first half for us,” Farmington head coach Danny Secrest said.

Brighton Clah led the Lady Scorps with 17 points. Meeya Yazzie added 11 and Tanisha Beetso chipped in 9 points.

Not only did the win snap Farmington’s skid, Secrest thinks it will serve as a confidence boost in the final month of the season.

“I thought it was good because I wasn’t sure how we’d play," Secrest said. "Last year, we struggled when we played down here, but I think tonight was a good wakeup call for us and opened our eyes a little bit that can actually really play together.”

Farmington will host Aztec (17-6, 3-2) on Thursday.

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