Piedra Vista survives against Aztec 50-42

The Panthers spoil Cody Smith's big night, win behind 10 made free throws in the fourth quarter

Jake Newby

FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista boys basketball team overcame a one-of-16 shooting night from the 3-point line and staved off Aztec 50-42 tonight at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

Piedra Vista's Brady Brown looks to shoot while being defended by Aztec's Tanner Brooks (5) and a host of other Tigers on Thursday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

In a game marred by bad shooting from the field on both sides, the Tigers chopped an 8-point deficit after three quarters to just 3 and 4 at different points of the fourth. But Aztec squandered a few too many late-game possessions and couldn't topple a PV (5-4) team that failed to ever find a rhythm on offense.

"On the offensive side, the fact is that we have to stop going rogue, and we have to start doing what we practice in practice," PV coach Devon Manning said.

Aztec (4-4) relied heavily on Cody Smith and his 20 points, most of which were a product of banging down low in the offensive post. On a night where Aztec made only one 3-pointer, Smith was invaluable, scoring 11 of the Tigers' 17 first-half points.

"He's been a workhorse for us," Aztec coach Matthew Steinfeldt said of Smith. "He's a kid I know extremely well from football the last three years, and I know what we can get out of him."

Smith played tough defense on PV's leading scorer Jarrett Graham, who dropped a team-high 19 points, but converted only four field goals. Smith also made an impact on the game on the glass.

Aztec's Cody Smith goes up for a shot while being defended by Piedra Vista's Jason Compton (1) and Brady Brown (3) on Thursday at Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse in Farmington.

"He killed us tonight," Manning said of Smith. "I think we counted about 20 offensive rebounds (for Aztec). He had to have more than half. And that's where most of his points came from, 'cause we thought we could just go up and get it, but he was grabbing offensive rebounds, putting them back up and going after loose balls. That kid played a hell of a game."

With 2:16 left in the game, a deep Jacob Feil 3-pointer pulled Aztec to within 3 points. Aztec's strategy at that point was to foul PV and make the Panthers earn it from the free-throw line while trying to score quick buckets of their own.

In a sequence of three straight possessions down the stretch, PV went four for six from the free-throw line, two of which answered inside baskets by Smith and Tanner Brooks. The two free-throw misses, both by Christian Chavez, gave Aztec a shot at making it a 1-point game if it could hit another 3. A well-defended Feil then fired another long triple try that rattled in and out of the hoop with fewer than 20 seconds left on the clock.

Graham made two free throws on the ensuing possession, which Aztec followed with a turnover.

Ten of PV's 15 fourth-quarter points came from the charity stripe.

The Tigers brought a blue-collar effort to the game with their rebounding and defense, but were too inept on offense to steal the victory.

"I think we had some bad looks at the end, but we also had some great looks," Steinfeldt said. "If I had to guess, I would say we shot between 20 and 25 percent. We played extremely hard, we put ourselves in great positions, but we didn't find ways to win the game tonight, and that's the disappointing part of it."

While most area schools are off for the holidays starting next week, PV plays a pair of road games, first against Gallup (2-6) on Tuesday and then versus Santa Fe (6-3) on Thursday.

Aztec draws Goddard (4-5) in the first round of the Poe Corn Invitational in Roswell on Dec. 28.

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