FARMINGTON – The Piedra Vista boys basketball team was in a must-win situation Friday night, and the Panthers delivered, avenging a loss as part of the bargain.
PV held Miyamura scoreless for the first 3:20 of the game, building an 8-0 lead during the stretch, and outworked the Patriots for a 72-37 victory at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse.
The Panthers kept their hopes for an at-large bid in the state tournament alive with the victory.
“That’s what this team is built around, effort and energy. If you don’t have those, you’re going to struggle,” PV head coach Adam Huff said. “It was good to see because we had some lineup changes, and we had it from everybody instead of just a few people.”
Miyamura beat PV 56-48 in Gallup on Jan. 26.
After the 8-0 start, the Panthers continued to control the game in the opening quarter and held a 20-6 advantage heading to the second period. Throughout the first quarter, the Patriots (8-15, 2-4 District 1-5A) settled for long jump shots against PV’s 2-3 zone defense.
In the second, the Patriots were more aggressive on offense and attacked the basket. But the Panthers (13-11, 3-4) continued to outwork them, pulling down multiple offensive rebounds and creating turnovers with their full-court press, and they took a 40-19 lead into halftime.
“We were trying to switch things up and make them think. They just got done with the bus drive up there, then sat through two games, so we wanted to make them think a little bit more than just throwing one thing at them,” Huff said. “It always goes back to the effort and energy to make the press look better. If you’re sprinting the full court defensively, good things will happen.”
PV kept rolling in the third quarter, starting on a 9-0 run during the first 1:30 to push its lead to 49-19.
Helping lead the Panthers in the third quarter was senior guard Fidel Castillo, who scored 6 of his 12 point in the quarter.
“It felt good,” Castillo said of the win. “Coach (Huff) has been talking to me about confidence, so I was trying to play with more confidence.”
Castillo, who started the game for the Panthers, played significant minutes for the first time since suffering an ankle injury a few weeks ago. He played sparingly in PV’s 63-54 loss to Gallup on Tuesday.
“I was worried about his ankle a little bit, but at halftime he said, ‘Coach, I’m perfect.’ He played well,” Huff said of Castillo.
PV outscored Miyamura 20-6 in the third quarter and cruised through the fourth quarter for the win.
Keegan Acosta led PV with 16 points. Jarrett Graham finished with 12 points, all coming in the second quarter.
PV will host crosstown rival Farmington (20-3, 6-0) on Friday.
Farmington has a chance to secure the regular-season district title on Tuesday when the Scorps host Gallup. If Gallup wins, the two teams will be tied atop the district standings with each having one game left in the regular season.
“One of two things is going to happen. Either they’re going to be undefeated in district going into the game, or they’ll be trying to force a one-game playoff,” Huff said. “We have a couple of things that we want to talk about, but we shouldn’t need any extra motivation against Farmington. We just have to play good team, a top-four team in the state, and try to help ourselves out down the road.”
Gallup 90, Aztec 73
Aztec scored a season-high 73 points, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers fell to Gallup (19-5, 5-1) 90-73 Friday night in Gallup.
Aztec (1-22, 0-7) will close out its regular season on Tuesday, travelling back to Gallup to take on Miyamura (8-15, 2-4).
Aztec head coach Jeremy Archuleta could not be reached for comment.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.