Scorps come up short against Albuquerque

Karl Schneider

FARMINGTON — The Farmington boys basketball team fought from the opening tip to the final buzzer, but the Scorps couldn’t grind out a win against Albuquerque, falling 41-34 this afternoon at Scorpion Gym.

Farmington's Nick Granger drives around Albuquerque's Silas Cole on Saturday at Scorpion Gym.

The Scorps pushed the Bulldogs until the final minutes, when Farmington was forced to foul for extra possessions, but Albuquerque connected on its free throws to close out the win.

“To take a top-five team in 6A, it was a 2-point game with 1:20 left, I’ll take that any day,” Farmington coach Paul Corley said. “I was really proud of our kids. I thought our guards matched their guards, and our big guy matched their big guy. It was just a good game between two good teams.”

With Albuquerque leading 37-34, Farmington’s Sol Rascon got a decent look at a 3 from the top of the key with 45 seconds remaining. But the shot missed left, and the rebound was snagged by the Bulldogs.

Albuquerque (4-0) connected on eight of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to help close out the win.

Farmington's David Riley, right, blocks Albuquerque's Lorenzo Cantoja on Saturday at Scorpion Gym.

The game saw two 6-foot-7 posts in Farmington senior David Riley and Albuquerque junior Marlon Cunningham, who has verbally committed to play for the University of New Mexico, go toe to toe.

Neither of the bigs got going offensively — Riley scored 4 points and Cunningham had 5 — as a result of the other playing solid defense.

“I thought David played really well out there,” Corley said. “The Cunningham kid made him take some tough shots. Today, David grew a lot as a defender. He stepped up to the challenge.”

The game started slowly. Farmington (2-1) struggled against Albuquerque’s on-ball pressure in the first quarter while the Bulldogs couldn’t seem to get their offense working.

During the break between the first and second quarter, with Farmington leading 9-7, Albuquerque coach Ron Garcia implored his team to run the offense instead of trying to go one on one against Farmington’s defense.

The Bulldog offense got going better in the second quarter behind senior guard Jai Douglas, who scored 8 of his 15 points in the quarter.

Farmington's Keaton Christy hits a 3-pointer against Albuquerque on Saturday at Scorpion Gym.

Trailing 23-18 to start the third quarter, Farmington’s Keaton Christy buried a 3 from the left corner on the Scorps’ first possession to make it 23-21. On the Bulldogs’ ensuing trip down the court, Riley blocked a shot in the paint. The Scorps pushed the ball down the court, and Nick Granger attacked the lane and finished at the rim to tie the game.

But the quick burst from the Scorps was followed by a seven-and-a-half-minute stretch without a made field goal that allowed Albuquerque to take a 5-point lead with less than 7 minutes left in the game.

“I don’t think it was so much their defense. We just didn’t take care of the ball,” Corley said of the stretch. “But I have to give (Albuquerque) credit. They did make the stops when they needed to (in the fourth quarter). It was just a grind-it-out kind of game for both teams.”

Granger led Farmington with 11 points. Rascon added 8.

Farmington will be off until Thursday when the Scorps host Shiprock (2-3) in the first round of the Marv Sanders Invitational at Scorpion Gym.

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