BASKETBALL

Farmington-area high school basketball teams making their mark on new season

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − The Kirtland Central High School girls basketball team is one of the few teams in the state with a perfect record, coming off a runaway victory Tuesday night at home over Montezuma-Cortez.

Meantime, the Navajo Prep boys basketball team looks to stretch their season-opening win streak to six straight when they visit Kirtland Central on Friday night.

Here's a look at rankings and schedules for local hoops teams heading into the weekend.

Boys basketball: Unbeaten Navajo Prep ranked third in 3A

There are only five teams in the state with still unblemished records in boys basketball, with Navajo Prep heading into the week with five wins from as many games.

The Eagles, ranked third in the state at Class 3A behind St. Michael's and Robertson, will be on the road Friday night to face Kirtland Central. The Eagles are being led by sophomore Xavier Nez and junior Jude Thomas, both scoring an average of 16 points per game.

Navajo Prep and Robertson are the only Class 3A schools boasting unbeaten records this season. St. Michael's received seven first-place votes in the most recent coaches poll, with Robertson receiving five first-place votes and Navajo Prep receiving a pair.

Farmington's Hayden Begay beats the Bloomfield defense and scores on a layup in the fourth quarter at Bobcat Gym on Tuesday, December 13, 2022.

According to MaxPreps, Robertson is ranked just ahead of Navajo Prep, with those two schools at the top of their most recent poll.

Kirtland Central, ranked 11th in the state by both the coaches and MaxPreps polls in Class 4A, has a record of 5-3 this season and is the top-ranked team from District 1-4A, ahead of Bloomfield with an overall record of 4-3.

The Farmington Scorpions, who will be in action throughout the weekend when they host the Marv Sanders Memorial Invitational Tournament, came into this week with only two games under their belt and are currently outside the top 10 in the coaches poll. They opened the season losing at home to Los Lunas before beating Kirtland Central last week at Scorpion Arena.

The Scorpions pulled clear of Bloomfield for their second win of the season on the road Tuesday night, beating the Bobcats by a final of 80-46. Cody Vassar-Steen led Farmington with 22 points, while Trel Griego scored 12 points. Hayden Begay and Lander Willie each scored 10 points in the win.

"Our defense had some moments where we really connected, which is something we preach a lot," said Scorpions coach Larry-Don Chitty. "Our offense is looking better as guys get more practices and knock off some of the rust."

Piedra Vista, with a record of 1-8 this season, is outside the top 10 in both the coaches and MaxPreps rankings.

Girls basketball: No. 1 Kirtland Central off to 9-0 start

Three local teams find themselves at the top or near the top of the rankings in high school girls basketball.

The Kirtland Central Lady Broncos, with an unbeaten record of 9-0 are ranked at the top of both the MaxPreps poll as well as the latest coaches poll. The Lady Broncos received 17 of 21 first-place votes in the most recent coaches poll, with District 1-4A rival Gallup receiving the remaining four.

The Lady Broncos continued their strong start to the current season with a romping 94-16 win at home Tuesday night over Montezuma-Cortez. After nine games last season, the Lady Broncos had a record of 6-3 before going on to win a state championship in Class 4A.

Kirtland Central's Sydney Smith and Keira Beall-Gleason try to get ball away from Montezuma-Cortez's Savanna Haselroth during the first quarter of a girls basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 at Bronco Arena.

"I'd say we're more experienced than we were at this point last year," said head coach Devon Manning. "We're not the same team we were at this time before. That doesn't mean we're going to be better than we were last year, but the experience is there."

On MaxPreps, Kirtland Central is ranked ahead of Lovington, Valencia and Gallup, with Hope Christian rounding out the top five.

The Lady Broncos are joined by Sandia, Carlsbad, Robertson, Mesa Vista and To'hajiilee as the only remaining unbeaten teams in the state.

In Class 5A, the Farmington High girls team, which suffered their first loss of the season last weekend in tournament action against defending state champion Volcano Vista, are ranked third in the most recent MaxPreps poll and fourth in the coaches poll. Hobbs and Volcano Vista are ranked 1-2, respectively, in both polls heading into the weekend.

The Lady Scorpions traveled to Aztec on Tuesday night and rolled over the Lady Tigers by a final of 71-9. Kapiolani Anitielu led Farmington with 19 points while playing less than half of the contest. The Lady Scorpions, with a record of 9-1, will get a well-deserved break before taking on Monument Valley (Ariz.) on Thursday, Dec. 22.

Piedra Vista, with a record of 3-4 this season, picked up their second straight win with a 56-40 victory on the road Tuesday night over Miyamura.

In Class 3A, the Navajo Prep Lady Eagles, with a record of 6-2 are ranked second behind only Robertson in the most recent MaxPreps poll. Navajo Prep's only losses this season have come to Farmington and Hobbs, two of the top three teams in Class 5A in the state.

The Lady Eagles are ranked third in the coaches poll, behind Robertson and Santa Fe Indian School. Navajo Prep will be at home Friday night to face Escalante.