FARMINGTON – The Farmington boys basketball season came to an end Saturday night on a teardrop.
In the final seconds of regulation, Bernalillo’s Austin Darnell came off a screen at the top of the key, got around Farmington’s David Riley as he tried to hedge the screen and put a layup high off the glass as time expired. The ball kissed off the backboard, landed softly on the rim and rolled in to lift the No. 13 Spartans over the fourth-seeded Scorps 52-50 in the first round of the 5A state basketball tournament at Scorpion Gym.
“I knew these guys had the heart to come back,” Farmington head coach Paul Corley said. “They did everything we asked, and we had an opportunity at the end to send the game to overtime, and that’s all you can ask. They showed a lot of guts in those last 30 seconds.”
Trailing 50-44 with less than a minute remaining, Farmington’s Nick Granger drained a 3-pointer to make it 50-47 with 51 seconds left.
The Scorps then forced a turnover in the backcourt to regain possession.
Farmington senior Diego Corley missed a contested 3, but junior big man David Riley secured the offensive rebound and drew a foul on the successful put back. Riley sank the free throw to tie the game at 50.
Bernalillo then took a timeout with 12 seconds remaining and called Darnell’s number for the game winner.
Farmington held a 35-29 lead after the third quarter, and extended its advantage to 43-34 with a little more than four minutes remaining.
But in the fourth quarter, with fouls mounting against Farmington, Bernalillo was sent to the free-throw line 19 times, and the Spartans connected on 15 of those attempts to help the comeback effort.
In the first half, Farmington pushed its lead to 6 points on multiple occasions, but the Spartans always seemed to answer with a 3, making five in the first half.
Corley said part of the problem for the Scorps in the first half was a lack of execution — missing layups and easy baskets along with committing turnovers at crucial times — due in part to nervous energy.
“I think we played a little nervous,” he said. “We didn’t play with too much confidence, but I can’t fault the kids. They gave us effort all year and left it all out there again, and that’s all I can ask.”
The loss ends Farmington’s season short of its goal of returning to The Pit and improving on last year’s quarterfinals exit.
Following the game, Corley told his players, especially the six seniors on the roster, not to dwell on the loss, but to use it as a way to grow as young men.
“Berrett Bentley, he’s the heart and soul of Farmington basketball. Tyren King came in — I was worried about who was going to replace Alex (Whiteley) — and Tyren came in and filled right in,” Corley said. “And we have kids like Dominique Yazzie, Zack (Lee) and Joe Broussard, who don’t get a lot of playing time, but come to practice every day and work hard. And Diego Corley, an awesome shooter. It’s sad that it ended this way, but they can take a lot of great memories with them. They brought some life back into Farmington High School basketball.”
Española Valley 65, Piedra Vista 56
Time ran out on Piedra Vista’s season Saturday night in Española.
After a quick start that saw PV take an early 11-6 lead, the Sundevils took control and led by 8 points or more for most of the way.
But late in the third quarter, the Panthers came clawing back and cut the deficit to 44-40 in the final seconds of the quarter. They kept it close for most of the fourth.
“We did some good things to get back in there. We had it down to 3 points, and 5 points with about two minutes to go, but we got a little undisciplined, and it came back to bite us,” PV head coach Adam Huff said. “When you’re trying to make a comeback you have to be disciplined and try to get to the foul line as much as you can, but we didn’t a good job of it.”
While PV struggled to get to the charity stripe, only taking six attempts, the Sundevils lived at the line, shooting 35 free throws.
Senior Keegan Acosta led PV with 14 points. Sophomore Jarrett Graham added 9.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.