Eagles overcome another sluggish start on offense, topping Thoreau in District 1-3A hoops

Matt Hollinshead,

FARMINGTON — First-quarter offense remains the Navajo Prep Eagles’ notable Achilles heel in their late-season playoff push.

“There’s no consistency to it,” Prep coach Matt Melvin said.

Prep eventually got things rolling on the scoring end by the second quarter, hammering Thoreau 71-51 in tonight’s District 1-3A basketball game at the Eagles Nest, despite how the opening quarter fared.

Some first and second-chance shots weren’t falling in the opening minutes, and Prep started getting impatient setting up chances.

The Eagles swung the ball around left and right. Passes either flew out of bounds or led to turnovers.

“First quarter’s kind of rough. We need our shots to start flowing. We need start opening up guys down low. It just comes down to finishing,” point guard Thomas Montanez said. “We just need that one guy to get the first two shots, three shots going.”

In the second quarter onward, however, Prep made cleaner passes and set up solid looks. The Eagles knocked down some well-timed 3-pointers, and players kept cutting into the paint and helped score on put-backs.

“We were able to get good looks. Sometimes, the best pass we can get is the simple one,” Montanez said. “It’s a step in the right direction, for sure.”

From there, Prep (12-7, 4-0) took command.

“It was awesome. We’re going to do things defensively and with our pressure in the full court to get some extra looks. But we’ve got to do something with them,” Melvin said. “When we do that, we can go on eight, 12-point runs really, really quick.”

Montanez, who scored 12 points, was among four who scored in double-figures.

Prep’s backbone under the Matt Melvin era is defense, but the Eagles look to be just as efficient on offense with the 3A playoffs just five weeks away.

“If you’re a defensive team and the shots are going, games like this happen,” Melvin said. “That was big for us. We needed to get the ball through the bucket consistently.”

Navajo Prep's Lance Morris puts up a shot against Thoreau during Wednesday's District 1-3A boys basketball game at the Eagles Nest in Farmington.

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