Mike Sanders proud that he helped solidify the legacy of his late father, Marv Sanders

Matt Hollinshead
Farmington Daily Times
Former Farmington High School boys basketball coach Marv Sanders, who coached FHS from 1980 to 2003, won two state titles with the Scorpions in 1982 and 1986.

FARMINGTON — Mike Sanders takes pride in knocking down two game-winning free throws in the 1982 state basketball championship game, because he helped solidify his late father’s illustrious coaching legacy.

That was the start of Farmington’s glory days under former coach Marv Sanders, who won two blue trophies (1982 and 1986) at the helm.

“That was the only time he felt like he was my dad and not my coach,” Mike Sanders said.

After Eldorado missed a shot in the 1982 state finals, Farmington rebounded the ball with five seconds left in regulation and called a timeout.

Mike Sanders said FHS had the ball at the far end of the floor, and he was fouled and went to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1 attempt. He knocked down both free throws, securing a 58-56 win, Farmington’s 26-0 campaign and the school’s first title.

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“I’m extremely proud of being able to play for him, come through when I needed to,” Mike Sanders said. “My goal was to be a state champion. I wanted to be in the Pit … When you go undefeated like that, these young kids see it … I wanted to be part of a state championship team.”

Mike Sanders said those two free throws always stuck with him because it would’ve “scarred” him had he missed them, adding his father didn’t want him to be in that position.

“The two of us have experienced so much together in that gym over the years. It was really special,” Mike Sanders said.

Former Farmington High School boys basketball coach Marv Sanders, who won two state titles with the Scorpions in 1982 and 1986, passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, after battling Parkinson's disease.

Marv Sanders won state titles at Hatch Valley (1964) and Silver (1975) before he came to the Four Corners.

Mike Sanders said Farmington was primarily known for being a baseball school prior to 1982, but added that his father wouldn’t have relocated if he didn’t see such an opportunity to win a title.

By 1986, Marv Sanders established himself as one of the state’s all-time greats with four state titles. He’s the state’s fourth-winningest boys basketball coach with 787 wins.

Altogether, Sanders' teams won 864 games between 1961 and 2012. That final stretch included a 2003 state finals appearance at FHS and coaching the Capitan girls from 2006 to 2012.

“People knew every time Farmington came on the floor, they were in for a game,” Mike Sanders said.

In memoriam:  Farmington basketball coaching legend Marv Sanders dies after battling Parkinson's disease

Although he lost his battle with Parkinson’s disease on Dec. 30 at the age of 82, his legacy was already cemented long ago.

Mike Sanders said his last ride during the 2003 finals capped off his father’s great run at FHS.

(My dad’s) touched a lot of kids lives.. you want to influence young men in a positive way,” Mike Sanders said. “I'm extremely proud of his legacy, as far as what kind of example he set.”

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

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