KC, PV win on first day of Marv Sanders Invite

Eric Foutz provides second-quarter spark, helps Kirtland Central defeat San Juan, Utah, 80-67

Karl Schneider, and Jake Newby
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Kirtland Central boys basketball team suffered a major blow this week when senior captain Jimmy Nez tore his ACL.

Kirtland Central's Jariah Setzer puts up a shot around San Juan's Zach Brown on Thursday at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

The injury could have derailed the Broncos, but the team rallied without the versatile wing and knocked off San Juan, out of Blanding, Utah, 80-67 in the first round of the Marv Sanders Invitational this afternoon at Scorpion Gym.

Before the game tipped, Nez gave an inspirational speech to the Broncos, telling them to keep fighting.

It took the Broncos a bit to get going, as they fell behind 24-16 early in the second quarter. When KC needed a spark, senior Eric Foutz provided it.

“We picked it up a lot. Our team this year is really good at doing what coach (Brian Dowdy) asks. When he gets on us, we’re able to rebound and bounce back,” said Foutz, who scored 8 points in the second period.

Kirtland Central's Eric Foutz splits the San Juan defense for a bucket on Thursday at Scorpion Gym.

Behind a 19-9 run to close out the second, KC took a 35-33 lead into halftime.

KC kept rolling in the third quarter, building a double-digit lead, but San Juan put together a quick run at the end of the quarter to cut KC’s lead to 52-48 heading to the fourth quarter.

The Broncos again found a sense of urgency in the fourth, going on a 6-0 run over the first minute of the quarter to take control.

KC will play Farmington in the second round of the tourney at 7 p.m. Friday.

Dowdy said he’s excited about the idea of the Broncos playing in front of a large crowd during the second round.

“These guys are more entertainers than anything. Anytime they get a chance, they’re trying to dunk it. They’re just a fun, upbeat group,” Dowdy said. “In my opinion, the louder the crowd gets, the better they play. I’m hoping there is a big crowd, because we might play even better in front of one.”

Piedra Vista 56, Fabens, Texas, 33

Piedra Vista's height and athleticism made life difficult on Fabens, Texas, in the first round of the Marv Sanders Invitational, as the Panthers came away with a 56-33 win.

Piedra Vista's Jarrett Graham hits a 3-pointer against Fabens, Texas, on Dec. 8 at Scorpion Gym in Farmington.

Jarrett Graham netted a game-high 26 points and Jason Compton chipped in with 9 for PV (3-2). The pair of 6-foot-4 inch players also did their part defensively to make sure the Wildcats' (2-7) interior offense was nonexistent.

The Panthers blitzed Fabens out of the gate with a 20-2 start, and Graham led the charge, scoring half of his points in the first quarter.

PV coach Devon Manning said the game plan wasn't necessarily to feed Graham the ball, instead saying the junior guard was a product of excellent ball movement early on from the Panthers.

"We aren't just calling plays for Jarrett," Manning said. "The flow of the offense allowed Jarrett to get those shots. If we play like that, then Jarrett, Brady (Brown), anyone's going to be able to go off if we work for open looks like that. Jarrett was just the recipient of it tonight."

PV will have its hands full with Durango, Colo., (4-0) at 5:30 p.m. Friday in one of two quarterfinal match-ups. Manning said his players need to do their jobs and stay focused for a full 32 minutes if they hope to hand the Demons their first loss of the season.

"We're going to have to be strong with the ball, we have to be physical and we can't get into any jawing matches or fall into the talking aspect of the game," Manning said. "We've got to worry about ourselves because we're not good enough right now to worry about the other team."

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

Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.