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FARMINGTON — The Farmington boys basketball team is once again the champion of the annual Marv Sanders Invitational.

For the second straight year, the Scorps knocked off crosstown rival Piedra Vista to earn the title, taking advantage of every opportunity to pick up a 44-37 win over the Panthers tonight at Scorpion Gym.

“It’s an important win for us. They’re a 6A school, and these games are always fun for us. It’s a fun rivalry, and winning our tournament for the second year in a row is really important for our kids,” Farmington coach Paul Corley said. “I’m happy for the kids. They’ve put the time in during practice and work hard, now they get to reap the rewards.”

The game couldn’t have started much worse for the Panthers. During the first quarter, PV found a few openings in the Farmington defense, getting shots the Panthers typically knock down, but nothing would fall. PV was held to 2 points in the first quarter, finally getting its first bucket with only 30 seconds left in the quarter.

“We talked all day today about keeping our emotions under control, but in a rivalry game like this, sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get going and under control,” PV coach Devon Manning said. “Farmington was under control sooner than we were. The big difference was the first quarter. I’m a firm believer that you can lose the game in the first quarter, and that’s pretty much what happened.”

After the Scorps (5-1) built an 18-4 lead early in the second quarter, the Panthers (4-3) clawed back into contention behind a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore Manuelito Abyeta and trailed 26-16 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Panthers cut Farmington’s lead to 30-28 with 4:28 left after Christian Chavez converted an and-one opportunity.

“The kids really played extra hard. They wanted it bad,” Manning said. “It’s just one of those nights where we’d get close, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

The Panthers couldn’t get any closer in the quarter, and Farmington held a 34-28 lead heading to the fourth.

Farmington pushed its lead to 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, thanks to a kick-out from the post to Nick Granger for an open 3.

“We’re really emphasizing the inside-out game right now. Our guards are understanding that if David (Riley) and our posts get the ball, good things will happen to (the guards), too,” Corley said. “I really liked our offense tonight. We were very balanced and controlled the offense.”

But PV kept coming at the Scorps, getting the deficit to 5 points at 42-37.

PV got an open look from the corner for Abyeta, but the 3 was off target, falling to Farmington’s Riley, who drew a foul and knocked down the pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.

Riley, who was named the tournament’s MVP, led Farmington with 17 points.

Abyeta and Brady Brown paced PV with 9 points each.

Farmington will play in the Wingate Holiday Classic next week, facing Thoreau (3-5) in the first round, while PV will host Shiprock (2-6) on Tuesday.

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

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