Scorps clinch district title, edge Gallup 55-51
FARMINGTON – Farmington’s David Riley was a man among boys Tuesday night at Scorpion Gym.
The 6-foot-7 junior was too tall, too strong and a dominating force for the Scorps in a 55-51 win over Gallup that clinched the District 1-5A regular season title.
“It’s incredible,” Riley said of clinching the district title. “That was one of our goals when we started the season, and it’s the first one we got done. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
During stretches in the first three quarters, Gallup (19-6, 5-2 District 1-5A) kept Riley quiet, collapsing its 2-3 zone on the junior and deflecting passes when the Scorps (22-4, 7-0) tried to feed him the ball. But in the fourth, Farmington abandoned bounce passes into the post, keeping its passes high and out of the Bengals’ reach.
Riley scored 8 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, doing most of his damage in a minute and a half stretch in which the Scorps built a 50-42 lead with 2:31 remaining in the game.
“In the last quarter, I really encouraged the kids to get the ball to David,” Farmington head coach Paul Corley said. “They (Gallup) couldn’t guard him. He got in great position, and we got him the ball, and good things happened. They didn’t have anyone who could guard him. David, he’s just a horse it there.”
Farmington senior Diego Corley gave the Scorps a spark in the first quarter. After missing his first two 3-point attemps, Corley connected on his next two 3s, then found a narrow lane that he slipped through for a layup to finish the quarter with 8 of the team’s 14 points.
Along with fellow senior guards Berrett Bentley and Tyren King, Corley helped dissect Gallup’s full-court press throughout the game to prevent the Bengals from using itheir defense to create easy offense.
“I really have to give a lot of credit to my seniors, especially my guards, Berrett, Tyren and Diego,” Paul Corley said. “They handled the pressure and played like seniors tonight with great composure.”
During the first half, neither side built a lead larger than 4 points, and the game went to halftime with Gallup leading 27-26.
Farmington started strong in the third, taking a 34-29 lead with 4:22 remaining. But the Bengals responded and went on a 9-2 run over the next 1:38 to gain a 38-36 advantage.
Tied at 38 entering the fourth quarter, the two teams continued to play each other close. With four minutes left in the game, Farmington led 44-42, setting up the Riley takeover.
Gallup battled back in the final two minutes and cut its deficit to 52-49 with a little more than a minute remaining.
Still down 52-49 with 35 seconds left, Gallup was forced to foul to extend the game. But King, who drew the foul, stepped to the line and made both free throws to seal the win for the Scorps.
Farmington can lock up its first perfect district record since the 2006-07 season if the Scorps can knock off Piedra Vista at PV’s Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse on Friday.
“It would be awesome,” Riley said of potentially finishing undefeated in district play. “It’s a really special experience to go 8-0 in district, and that’s another one of our goals. We’re looking forward to it.”
Miyamura 73, Aztec 52
Miyamura (9-16, 3-4) ended Aztec’s regular season with loss, knocking off the Tigers 73-52 Friday night in Gallup.
Aztec (1-23, 0-8) now sets its sights on picking up a win in the District 1-5A tournament next week.
Aztec head coach Jeremy Archuleta could not be reached for comment.
Navajo Prep 52, Crownpoint 40
After Navajo Prep (19-6, 6-1 District 1-3A) started a bit slow against Crownpoint (6-16, 3-4), Nachae Nez took over in the second quarter, hitting 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions to help lift Prep to a 52-40 win Tuesday night at the Eagles Nest.
“We got off to kind of a slow start, and then Nez just went nuts in the second quarter,” Prep head coach Rick Hoerner said. “We were up by 15 or so, and just kind of put it on cruise control from there, unfortunately. We didn’t have the killer instinct to put them away tonight.”
Nez finished with 25 points for Prep.
Prep will close out the regular season on Thursday at Rehoboth Christian (9-12, 2-4). A win would give Prep the District 1-3A regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.
“I know these guys haven’t had a home district championship game in God knows how long, and we’re trying to make it known to our guys that it’s not just a big deal for them, but for the whole school,” Hoerner said. “Hopefully, if all things go well, we’ll be able to host a home state playoff game.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.