Young Scorpions handling pressure better

FHS underclassmen show poise in win over Kirtland

Matt Hollinshead,
Farmington defender Chandler Corley, No. 23, looks to keep Shiprock ballhandler Kieon Harvey from attacking the basket during a game on Jan. 4 at Scorpion Arena.
  • The Scorpions erased a 10-point deficit late in Friday's district victory over the Broncos.
  • Farmington's experience at tournaments earlier this season in Grants and Roswell paid dividends in Friday's victory.
  • Despite its youth, FHS is hoping to make a return appearance in the 5A state tournament.

FARMINGTON — Many of Farmington's hopes for its younger players this season hinged on how they'd handle the pressures of tougher games.

It's been a difficult process, which the Scorpions expected coming in, but the younger and less-experienced group is starting to come around. Friday's 70-67 district win over Kirtland Central was a testament to how far those players come and what can still be done.

"They know how to react much better then they usually did at the beginning of the season," junior forward Kobe Shorty said. "That game is really going to help us out throughout district and throughout the future. We worked all the way to the end, didn't give up. We all have faith now that we all know that we can do it."

Down by 10 points late in the fourth quarter, Farmington didn't fret and soon overcame that deficit.

In retrospect, that's where playing at the Eddie Peña Classic in Grants and at the Poe Corn Invitational in Roswell last month paid dividends. The Scorpions' younger players had to learn to be more careful moving the ball in high-stress moments and not dwell on turnovers or missing a big shot — all while dealing with loud, crazy crowds.

"They were going to need to learn how to handle those situations," coach Paul Corley said. "The parity in our district, they're all going to be tough games, close games."

Those experiences applied well to Friday.'s game Even with its home crowd growing restless with Farmington down by double digits in the final minutes, the Scorps combated their anxieties, stayed the course and completed their comeback.

"Our last eight possessions, we either scored a free throw or hit a 3. We didn't throw it away. (We) took care of the ball the last eight possessions," Corley said. "They've got to have composure and confidence. It was kind of a bigger plan, and it worked out Friday night."

Friday's win is what Corley hopes his squad can build on to ensure a strong district record and a possible return to the 5A playoffs.

"If we can learn from those (games), learn how to compete hard against the best teams when we get in these situations, we're bound to catch a good game and have everything fall together," Corley said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.