FARMINGTON — The Farmington boys basketball team dominated the paint and shut down nearly every chance Shiprock’s offense had on the way to a 59-40 victory in the first round of the Marv Sanders Invitational tonight at Scorpion Gym.
The Scorps did most of their damage around the basket, scoring 38 points in the paint.
With a size advantage on the Chieftains, the Scorp pounded the ball into the post, getting easy looks from close range or kicking the ball out to the perimeter for open 3-pointers.
“That was a really big emphasis tonight. We really worked hard on that the last week,” Farmington coach Paul Corley said of the Scorps’ ability to get the ball inside. “David (Riley), Kody (Becenti), Sol (Rascon), Jacob (Brown) — they all did a good job of pinning their guys down low. The guards got the ball inside, and it opened up looks on the outside.”
Farmington jumped to a 19-5 lead after the first quarter, scoring 14 of those points in the paint.
In the first quarter, Shiprock failed to match the intensity of Farmington, leading to the big early deficit. But in the second quarter, the Chieftains woke up, picking up the pressure on defense to keep the Scorps to 11 points in the quarter. Shiprock trailed 30-16 at halftime.
“I think we didn’t match their intensity on the floor. Our intensity level just wasn’t there,” Shiprock coach Chester Atcitty said. “Despite the score, our defense was good. It wasn’t the best, but it was good. But our offense, we need more work on offense. It was kind of a flip-flop from previous games when our offense was good, and our defense was horrible.”
Farmington built its lead to 22 points by the end of the third quarter, causing havoc in the backcourt and creating turnover after turnover with its full-court pressure. When the Chieftains were able to get into their half-court offense, the Scorps forced them into tough, contested shots time and time again.
“Something we really stress is our pack-line defense, and they really executed it well,” Corley said. “It was some of the best we’ve played all season, and the kids have really bought into playing good defense. And they did a great job tonight causing a lot of turnovers, which gave us easy points.”
Farmington maintained a lead of about 20 points for the majority of the fourth quarter. Shiprock never got closer than 18 points until the final minute of the game.
Riley led Farmington with 17 points, and Becenti added 10.
Arvin Begay led Shiprock with 8 points.
The lose moves Shiprock onto the consolation side of the bracket, where the Chieftains will face San Juan, out of Blanding, Utah, at 3 p.m. Friday.
Farmington moved into the semifinals and will face Kirtland Central in the nightcap scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
“It’s a district foe, so it’s a big game. We have to come out early and set the tone defensively,” Corley said. “I have a lot of respect for Kirtland and coach (Brian) Dowdy. It should be a fun game for us and the fans.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.