Lady Scorps keep rolling, beat Aztec 64-54

Karl Schneider

AZTEC – The Farmington girls basketball team is on a tear, and it couldn’t be happening at a better time.

The Lady Scorps have picked up four wins in the last six days after knocking off Aztec 64-54 in the District 1-5A tournament semifinal Thursday night at Lillywhite Gym.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” said Farmington senior Meeya Yazzie. “We’re definitely bonding, being more consistent and we have more confidence in one another — not only in ourselves but in our coaches and our whole team.”

Farmington's Meeya Yazzie and Brighton Clah (55) celebrate after beating Aztec on Thursday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

The Lady Scorps (14-12) started well, building a 7-1 lead midway through the first quarter while their defense kept Aztec (19-8) off balance.

Aztec failed to convert a field goal for the first 5:35 of the game. But once the lid came off the basket and the first shot fell, the Lady Tigers started rolling and held an 11-9 lead after the first quarter.

“It was a really slow start, but when you get in the district tournament, everyone knows everyone,” Aztec head coach Robert McCaskill said. “We were just a little hesitant on all the things we were trying to do.”

Aztec kept building its lead throughout the second quarter and held a 23-17 advantage at halftime.

Farmington head coach Danny Secrest said that after the quick start, the Lady Scorps got a little sluggish, and during the break he told them to pick things up.

“He wanted us to keep pushing and not give up,” Yazzie said. “He told us to be confident all the time and to come out with a little more intensity. He reminded us who we are and that we’re a good basketball team.”

The Lady Scorps responded in the third quarter.

Aztec got the ball to start the quarter, but Farmington’s MaKayla Wood drew a charge to give possession to Farmington. On the ensuing trip down the court, Yazzie buried a 3-pointer that sparked a 7-0 run during the first 1:15 of the quarter that gave Farmington a 24-23 lead. The Lady Scorps went on to outscore Aztec 26-14 in the quarter, with Wood scoring 11 of her 13 points in the quarter.

Farmington's MaKayla Wood puts up a shot during Thursday's game against Aztec at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

“She did a great job. She went to the basket a couple of times and drew a couple fouls,” Secrest said of Wood. “It’s nice to see her smiling and having a good time in the game. That’s definitely what we want to see.”

Farmington pushed its lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter, but Aztec kept fighting, cutting the deficit to 5 a couple of times, but couldn’t get any closer after missing six free throws in the fourth.

“We have to execute,” McCaskill said. “We have to make our free throws. We had our three best free-throw shooters at the line and went one for seven in that stretch.”

Yazzie finished with 15 points and Brighton Clah added 14 to lead Farmington.

Aztec’s Elana Kresl led all scorers with 18 points. Myra McCaskill chipped in 11 for the Lady Tigers.

Aztec's Myra McCaskill takes a shot during Thursday's game against Farmington at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

With the win, Farmington advanced to the tournament final on Saturday, when the Lady Scorps will travel to Gallup to face the Lady Bengals (24-0).

“Hopefully they (the Lady Scorps) won’t put pressure on themselves, and we’ll just go down there and play relaxed,” Secrest said. “We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It kind of helps us a little bit being in that situation.”

Navajo Prep 54, Rehoboth Christian 38

After picking up a 63-19 win over Newcomb on Tuesday night, Navajo Prep (13-14) kept rolling with a 54-38 victory over Rehoboth Christian (10-16) in the District 1-3A semifinal Thursday night at the Eagles Nest in Farmington.

Prep head coach Rainy Crisp said the Lady Eagles’ defense was the difference in the game.

“We created some good points off of our defense,” Crisp said. “We really tried to pressure the ball and play good defense down on their posts. And we rebounded well. We kept them to one shot and out in the third and fourth quarters to build up our lead.”

Harlei Haceesa led Prep with 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Taina Sandoval finished with 11 points and five steals.

Prep will next play at Tohatchi (23-3) on Saturday for the district title.

“Every game we’re building confidence,” Crisp said. “I told my girls it’s hard to beat a team three times.”

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