Here are some players to watch in District 2-5A girls basketball action

Matt Hollinshead,

Piedra Vista’s Celina Watson

Lady Panthers shooting guard Celina Watson is hands-down the most improved player on the team.

Watson has already scored in double figures nine times as of last Tuesday, which is more than twice as many double-digit scoring outputs she tallied all of last season.

She spent the off-season getting physically stronger to better withstand defenders when attacking the basket, and it’s paid off.

Watson has added plenty of upper body strength to where she won’t easily get pushed around by opposing bigs, and PV is now a bit less reliant on forward Lanae Billy for quick post touches.

If anything, Watson’s extra workload on offense has led to Billy generating higher scoring totals in recent weeks because Billy’s playing more freely.

Watson can also contribute as a perimeter shooter, which enables point guard Elaina Watson to put more into perimeter defense and getting easy fast-break buckets.

Celina Watson must continue being that extra scoring presence.

Farmington’s Kiiyani Anitielu

Lady Scorpions point guard Kiiyani Anitielu has become quite the scoring machine.

She’s lighting up the scoreboard in the bigger games, including a 35-point outing against Canutillo and a 25-point game against Kirtland Central. 

More importantly, Anitielu is taking control of games and helping Farmington pull away for big-margin wins. 

After a rough start against Tohatchi, in which she committed three fouls in the first half, Anitielu sparked Farmington’s offense as the second half went on. She hit some quick shots and scored 12 of her 23 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Antielu’s demonstrated time and again she can be the go-to scorer in the tougher matchups.

Farmington's Kiiyani Anitielu, seen here playing against Tohatchi on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at Scorpion Arena in Farmington, is among several players to watch as District 2-5A girls basketball gets underway.

West Mesa’s Emily Burk

Lady Mustangs point guard Emily Burk is already regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the state, tallying 187 total steals last year. She’s already up to 70 total steals as of last Tuesday.

Burk is also emerging as West Mesa’s leading scorer this season, averaging 14.9 points a game as of last Tuesday. She averaged just 8.5 points a game all of last season.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.